Kyrie Irving, the number one pick from the 2011 NBA Draft, is now a Boston Celtic. Isaiah Thomas, the 60th pick from that same class is a Cleveland Cavalier.
Two of the best point guards in the eastern conference have switched teams. On Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.
How did we reach this point? As if the NBA offseason hasn’t been crazy enough. What drove Irving to ask the Cavaliers for a trade?
According to ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst, Irving “wants to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.”
Despite the alleged animosity between the two, James showed his former teammate respect as he took to Twitter to acknowledge the move.
This trade is great for both sides. Cleveland is acquiring a prolific scorer in Thomas, who was third (28.9) in scoring last season. They’re also gaining an additional wing defender in Crowder, who can take some of the defensive pressure off of James.
Finally, the Cavaliers landed one of the Celtics’ coveted assets in the Nets’ 2018 unprotected first-round pick. The uncertainty of James’ pending free agency decision next summer is the reason why the draft pick was such a major key.
It gives the franchise something to look forward to for the future in case James decides to bolt for a new city. The Brooklyn Nets should improve slightly from last season with the additions of D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, but the lottery awaits them once again. Therefore, Cleveland should come out on top with that draft choice.
As for the Celtics, acquiring a player like Irving gives them the franchise player they’ve been searching for. Their team is built for his Alpha-male mentality to come in and take the reins. Gordon Hayward, who was their initial major offseason acquisition, will likely settle as the second option.
Irving, who averaged a career high in points last season (25.2), is only 25-years-old and has a career’s worth of accomplishments in just six seasons. He’s an NBA champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, a four-time All-Star, and the 2012 Rookie of the Year. Not to mention, he sank one of the biggest shots in history during Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.
According to ESPN, Irving has three years and $60 million left on his contract, but he can opt out of the final year before the 2019-20 season.
The Cavaliers will host the Celtics for the first game of the season at 8 p.m. on Oct. 17. How fitting.