Clashing narratives: Why the Irving trade is a rare win-win

So, that happened. The Celtics have traded for Kyrie Irving and they have given up a ton for him. As Celtics fans, we are on an emotional roller coaster ride. Not even your usual roller coaster, like Kingda Ka but three in a row kinda deal. WE'RE TRADING FOR KYRIE BUT ISAIAH IS LEAVING BUT HE'S KYRIE BUT JAE CROWDER CONTRACT BUT KYRIE BUT THE NETS PICK WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!!!

I'm going to set all these questions aside for a while. While it's tempting to evaluate a trade as it happens, time more often than not proves people wrong (unless it's an obviously one-sided trade). I want to compare and contrast some of the narratives that have come up since yesterday with those that have been with us for a while, and by doing that demonstrate why the Celtics fans or NBA fans in general are overreacting at certain points.

Clashing narratives #1: The Celtics have blown up a 1st seed team vs. The Celtics are the most overrated 1st seed ever.

The former does not necessarily come as criticism, but I have seen people act like Ainge has gone mad by dismantling what was the best team in the Eastern Conference last year. Let's be true to ourselves: we all know that was not the case. Yes, Isaiah was injured, but the Cavaliers beat us handily at will because LeBron. And the one game where they looked like the series was turning against them, guess what happened: Now-Celtic Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics have swapped Irving for Thomas (upgrade), Hayward&Tatum for Crowder&Bradley (also upgrade) and also added a ton of players with potential. Yes, we could have had all those players, but you know what happens when you have a ton of players at a similar level? They do not improve as seniority mostly hurts the young. The Celtics are as strong if not stronger and have a more balanced roster now. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will get a lot more playing time, and maybe even the other rookies too.
Still feels unreal.

Clashing narratives #2: Ainge is too stingy with his assets vs. Ainge has paid too much.

Everyone makes fun of Ainge's media-friendly leaks after a failed trade where he claims he offered a lot but the other team didn't bite. People went crazy because Ainge wouldn't offer his "overvalued" picks for a clear rental in Paul George who is definitely going to LA. Guess what? Maybe Ainge did offer all those picks for the other superstars huh?

To get a young, superstar caliber player like Kyrie Irving on a prettay prettay friendly contract for 2 years (with a player option for a third year he will very probably opt out of but hey, weirder things happened), you pay up. This is the guy who took the Championship-winning shot 2 years ago. This is the guy who single-handedly killed the Celtics in 5 minutes last year. This is a guy who can finish at will at the rim. And now he'll also get a very good coach in Brad Stevens, the best he's ever had in his NBA career.

But again, people, especially non-Boston people wanted Ainge to offer Crowder/Bradley/young player and a Nets pick for Paul George. This is more or less the same offer for an even better return (yes, Isaiah Thomas is better than Bradley but Kyrie is younger than Paul George and he's willing to stay in Boston and he doesn't create a positional overload). So what changed?

Clashing narratives #3: Superstars win championships vs. The Celtics have traded away a very good team.

How many times have you heard the following? "The Celtics are a very good team, but you need a superstar to win in the NBA. [Insert Horford, Isaiah, Hayward here] cannot be your best guy if you want to win a championship."

The Celtics now have a roster where Kyrie is #1 and Horford and Hayward are #2 and #3 depending on the moment. This is what everyone asked the Celtics to do. This is the roster people wanted the Celtics to have. Just forget how the Kyrie trade happened and look at the end result. 1 Superstar (years away from his prime), 2 All-Stars (of which one still has a quite high ceiling) surrounded by young guys who are at worst capable role players. This doesn't look like trading away a very good team to me.

Again, only time will tell how this trade will work out for both teams. Maybe LeBron gives up his dream of living in LA and stays in Cleveland which dooms the Celtics for a few more years (although, guys, every Boston-Cleveland game is gonna be LIT this year and for years to come in that case). Maybe Isaiah's injury limits his athleticism in a way that hinders him from repeating what he did last year (don't forget he's also 5'9") and the Cavs are also a mess with their perimeter defense.

For now we know this: The Celtics have a roster set for at least 2 years where they don't have to pay their quasi-superstar a ridiculous ton of money and maybe even risk losing him for nothing. Certainty awaits the Celtics for the first time in a long while.

Emotionally, it hurts. But basketball-wise, this was not a bad decision at all. Both teams have won this trade for now.
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