It finally happened, the Cavs traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets‘ 2018 unprotected first-round pick. Every trade comes down to who won the deal. But this one might be more complex than that. Right off the bat, I gotta say…not a bad haul for the new Cavs GM and I actually think my first instinct is the Cavs won this deal by a lot. First off, they had no leverage. Kyrie’s trade demand was made public and so naturally that lessens his trade value. So if you’re the Cavs, you could be heading into next year’s off season with no Kyrie, no LeBron and no hope at all. Instead, they flip Kyrie into IT who actually had better numbers than Kyrie did last year and in doing so they maintain this season’s title hopes:
PPG 25.2 28.9
APG 5.8 5.9
3-PT FG% 40% 38%
PER 23 26.5
Now, I’m not saying IT is better than Kyrie, but the gap between the two players isn’t as big as its perceived to be. Also the Cavs add Crowder their rotation which is an immediate upgrade over last season’s Richard Jefferson minutes. So the question needs to be asked, are the Cavs actually better than they were last season? ….And oh yeah they got a first round pick, but not just any first round pick, but THE NETS FIRST ROUND PICK!!!! So they went from possibly having no Kyrie or LeBron, to possibly having the top pick in next year’s draft. On top of that….I don’t know about you, but given the option, I’d rather have the Nets pick and Crowder (and his great contract) than one extra year of Kyrie Irving.
Now don’t get me wrong, Kryie Irving is a very good player. But I don’t think he’s the “franchise” player we think he is. Can he be the best player on a championship team? I don’t think so. Irving, Hayward and Horford is a pretty good threesome, but I don’t think the Warriors are worried. Heck, the Cavs made the trade, so clearly they’re not worried either. For the Celtics, the pressure is now on their kids, Tatum and Brown who will have to contribute consistently if Boston is to compete for the East crown. It sounds as if I’m down on this from the Celtics side of things and I’m not…well not really anyways. I just think they could have gotten more out of the Nets picks. Kyrie is great, but he’s only been great around LeBron. When his trade demand was first announced, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN had a great break down of the “Kyrie-led” Cavs. (http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20149584/does-kyrie-irving-kobe-bryant-lebron-james-problem-nba)
Lets just say the results aren’t flattering at all for Mr. Irving. Here are some highlights
- In the 17 games that James has sat the past three seasons with Irving starting, the Cavs’ record is a woeful 4-13 (.235).
- When James played without Irving the past three seasons, the Cavs went 25-11 (.694).
- With Irving off the court & James on the court, the LeBron-led Cavs outscored opponents by 585 pts in 3,074 mins, or plus-9.1 per 48 mins
- With Irving on the court & James off the court, the Irving-led Cavs have been outscored by 94 pts in 2,000 mins, or minus-1.7 per 48 mins
The LeBron-led Cavs….would have been good for second in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors last season.
- The Irving-led Cavs would be on pace with a New Orleans Pelicans team that finished 14 games under .500 last season…
- Irving ranks 12th among PG’s in real plus-minus, thanks to a def RPM that places him 440th among all players on that end of the floor.
Now of course, one could argue the Cavs roster is built to surround LeBron James more than it is to support Kyrie and his skill set. But still the questions remain, are we sure Kyrie is as good as we think he is? We know he’s a great scorer. We know he can’t be guarded, but does he make anyone around him better? A closer look at the last point listed above will probably shock you in terms of the PG’s ranked above Kyrie in terms of Real Plus Minus:
2016-17 Real Plus-Minus – Point Guards
You’ll also notice that Kyrie ranks just above…..Isaiah Thomas. Now again, this isn’t to shit on Kyrie, cause the kid has game. He’s 25 years old and put up 25 points a night while having to share the ball with LeBron and Kevin Love. But we’ll soon find out if his scoring prowess can translate into wins when he’s not playing beside LeBron James. Even more so we’ll find out if Kyrie can take it to another level and be Russell Westbrook or James Harden and propel himself into the MVP candidate. A wise man once said “there’s levels to this shit” and in this case, I’m not sure Kyrie is at that level.
With a ton of factors like Thomas’ health, how good the Nets will be and will Kyrie re-sign in Boston… We may not find out who really won this trade for a couple years. What we do know is, LeBron gets at least one more run at a championship in Cleveland, the Cavs trade Kyrie and will most likely get to eliminate him in the playoffs and Cleveland with the Nets pick is a lot more desirable for LeBron to stay, than they were about a week ago (WEEK AGOOOOO). NBA fans won’t have to wait long to see the drama unfold on the court as the Celtics and Cavs square off on opening night in Cleveland.
I started this by asking who won this trade and even now after going through it…the answer is still complicated. LeBron remains a top the east. IT and Crowder have their best chance to compete for a ring and the Cavs get the coveted Nets pick. While on the other side, the Celtics get their “star” and Kyrie gets to prove that he deserves that status. So while there’s still time to sort out all of the “Wins and Losses”…to me anyways, after all of the back and forth this summer on social media, one of LeBron’s workout videos might have summed things up perfectly.
Side note, check out that new Meek Mill album…straight FIRE!!!!
As always, just my thoughts. Right or wrong, just how I’m feeling at the time.