Why… get… Kyrie Irving?
As a Boston fan, I hate the trade. All of a sudden, Cleveland got valuable players of what was a disastrous preseason. They got lucky with Derrick Rose… but it’s not like D-Rose (especially with the 2-million price tag), Jeff Green, and Jose Calderon could compare with the other preseason moves. Why help our Eastern Conference enemies? But thinking deep, I do agree with what Danny Ainge did in this trade. Thomas had an impressive season but it feels as if he’s bent on leaving Boston next season if the Celtics can’t give him the money he yearns for. I can see Thomas worthy for multi-year moolah. Heck, I can see this trade biting Boston’s proverbial ass if the Irving experiment fails to pan out.
I can’t see Thomas leading a championship squad though.
Thomas started his NBA career when he became the last pick of the Sacramento Kings in the 2011 NBA Draft. Thomas got picked after Irving, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler. You get now why Thomas got bypassed when you read the aforementioned names but Thomas was also selected after the likes of Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Jimmer Fredette, Qatari Tanguy Ngombo, Nigerian Chukwudiebere Maduabum, former Talk N Text Tropang Texter Keith Benson, and former Ginebra and Mighty Sports import Vernon Macklin.
With Thomas’ size, I don’t think teams respected his calibre.
It’s a stark contrast if you compare Thomas to Uncle Drew. From the get go, Irving was seen as a big game hunter. Irving didn’t need three collegiate seasons at Duke to convince Cleveland that he’s top pick material. Irving didn’t need a winning season to convince the Cleveland execs to pay him 90 million. And most importantly, Irving didn’t like the thought of playing second fiddle to Lebron James.
It may sound funny now but Irving felt disrespected with the arrival of James. Irving thought the Cavs is his squad. But then James announced his decision and all of a sudden Kyrie turned sidekick. It showed during the first three months of the James-Irving and Kevin Love connection that Irving wasn’t keen of becoming his sidekick. In 2010, Dwyane Wade embraced the entry of James and Chris Bosh to the Miami fold with open arms. Wade was already 28 when it happened and alongside his friends, they were determined to dominate the NBA. But the other thing about Wade is that he has established himself as NBA elite. Wade is like Steph Curry when Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors.
It’s a different case with Irving.
In fact, it felt as if Irving would go from superstar to third option with the arrival of Love from Minnesota.
Irving was only 22 when James re-joined the Cavs. The reason why he signed the contract extension is because the team promised him top star status. Currently, Irving is associated with titles but if you look at it, Irving would rather pad his stats than hunt for a title.
I get Irving’s yearning to enhance his superstar aura because for as long as he is in the shadow of Lebron James, he’s not going to get that recognition. Irving got the Uncle Drew Pepsi Max deal before Lebron flew in. I wonder if Irving could earn that paycheck if he had LBJ right from the get go?
The Thomas-Irving trade felt like trading Gary Payton for Rod Strickland (ironically Strickland is Irving’s godfather). Or Kenny Anderson. Or hell… Nate Robinson. Thomas is good now but people forget that Sacramento never saw him as a compliment to DeMarcus Cousins. We also fail to remember that Phoenix acquired him for the Kings for basically nothing and the Suns decided to release him in favour of Brandon Knight.
As much as I get Thomas’ ascendance to NBA superstardom, you can’t shrug the fact that maybe this is IT4’s peak.
I get the inclusion of Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic in the trade package. Crowder has still 21 million left in his 5-year contract and it gives a bit of leverage when Irving decides to negotiate his contract next season. It also give Boston a comfortable salary cap if Irving leaves Boston. I don’t get the inclusion of the unprotected first round draft pick though. D’Angelo Russell will not push the Brooklyn Nets to NBA heaven and it felt as if Boston needed this trade more than Cleveland.
Cleveland needs to trade Irving because he said he can’t play with Lebron. Primadonna-ish but it’s not like Thomas didn’t state the same thing when asked for a contract extension. Thomas can play as a number two option in Cleveland because just when he thought he found his home in Boston, he has to start anew with the Cavs. I know… I said Thomas is bent to move out of Boston if he didn’t get his money but I guess deep inside he wants to settle with a team that will value his presence.
This is Thomas’ fourth team in seven seasons.
All he wants is to survive.
If James leaves Cleveland next season, there’s a higher chance of Thomas re-signing. So why give up that pick? Losing Crowder and Zizic mean they need the pick to acquire a possible top pick or a trade bait for a possible top free agent.
I am not a fan of Irving but I will admit he’s a big name for the re-tooled Boston Celtics. Kyrie will join second year Celtic Al Horford, Boston newbies Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris, rotation regulars Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, second year player Jaylen Brown, Euroleague vet Daniel Theis, and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum. If he wants the chance to lead a team, then things just opened up in Boston. And I’m guessing Irving will also try to gel with the Boston crew. Bouncing from team to team is detrimental… especially to point guards (Deron Williams, Irving’s Cleveland teammate, enjoyed nearly six seasons with the Utah Jazz before nearly six seasons of bouncing from team to team).
Irving just needs to mesh his skills with Brad Stevens’ motion offense.
Hopefully he’ll make Cleveland pay for choosing James over him… and not the other way around.