Did the Celtics give Cleveland too much for Kyrie Irving?
As the dust settles on the blockbuster trade that saw Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas switch jerseys, it is time to get critical. Did Danny Ainge sacrifice too much to land the 25-year-old All-Star point guard, or was the price tag just about right?
In addition to receiving Thomas, Cleveland hauled in an impressive package of Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the ever-so-valued 2018 Brooklyn first-rounder. There is no question that this is a lot of talent and assets. Even Ainge admitted that in order to land a player of Irving's caliber, "you have to pay a heavy price." The real question is whether that heavy price will pay off.
Swapping Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas is an obvious upgrade. When you look at talent, both are very similar in their ability to score and get to where they want on the court, and neither are known for their defensive abilities. What really sets them apart is age, contract, and potential.
Irving is still only 25 years young with two full seasons remaining on his inexpensive contract and a player option in the third year. Meanwhile, Isaiah is 28 and quickly approaching that 30-year-old threshold. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, in which he has publicly expressed his expectations of Brink's trucks filled with money to be delivered to him.
Between the contract situation, the age/potential factor, and the six inches or so that Irving has on the 5'9" Isaiah, yes, this is indeed a nice upgrade. So now the question becomes is Crowder, Zizic, and the BRK pick worth that upgrade?
Crowder is a solid NBA player whose grit and grind every game defined Celtics basketball. Outside of that though, he is expendable with Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and the young guys stepping in. This I am OK with.
Zizic has a lot of potential in the league, so much so that some analysts have claimed that Zizic would've been worth a top-10 pick in this past 2017 draft (which was LOADED as we know). However, you have to consider the unpredictability here. Given that the big man is currently still a question mark, I am OK with parting ways with his unknown professional abilities as well.
The 2018 Nets pick is where I really start questioning whether the Celtics overpaid for Irving. The 2018 draft class is oozing with legit future NBA talent, especially near the top of the draft where Brooklyn's pick will likely land. Perhaps Ainge sees this pick as being more expendable given they have already cemented their (hopeful) future talent through youngsters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who they selected at number three in back-to-back drafts. Nonetheless, the pick was - and still is - extremely valuable, which gets me to my next concern. Let's not forget that Clevland is still in the picture here. If their season is going in the right direction come February, they could flip that Nets pick near the trade deadline for another established player that helps defeat Boston in the playoffs. That would really haunt us, right?
At the same time, perhaps Ainge held his ground. The Boston GM noted how this trade was not on the table earlier this summer.
"This deal we made today was not available a month ago." Ainge.
It was initially reported that Cleveland wouldn't trade Kyrie unless Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum was included in the deal. Yet, Ainge managed to hold Tatum and still get a deal done. The dude is wicked smaaht *heavy Boston accent* and knows the best deal when he sees it.
In all honesty, the former blockbuster trades make this one look like we are overpaying when in reality, we probably are not. The price tags for Paul George, Boogie Cousins, and Jimmy Butler all ended up being very low:
Give new GM credit. Where CHI & IND got garbage for stars, CLE got top 5 MVP finisher, another starter, a top '18 pick + another 1st in Ante