by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
The kid contacted me, first thing:
Kyrie Irving to Boston.
Cavs got the better of the deal.
His take. Not mine.
Frankly, once the shock and confusion wore off following the text from my NBA junkie/son, methinks we're looking at two teams that actually weakened themselves with what has been coined a “mega-trade.”
Mega-trade. Meek pleasing of a whiny, unappreciative brat. You make the call ...
Yeah, OK, the Celtics get a perennial all-star who believes his game will only grow with distancing himself from LeBron James, and Cleveland acquires a high-scoring, pint-sized guard in Isaiah Thomas, a solid role player in Jae Crowder, a throw-in and a 2018 first-round draft pick.
On the surface, especially with relatively big names being thrown about, it reads like a win-win.
Just don't see it as such.
What happens in Boston with Irving now paired with Gordon Hayward, the golden boy of this summer's free-agent crop who bailed on a comfy situation in Utah to test himself in a rough-and-tumble sports town? Is Irving the No. 1 guy there now, or is he walking into a situation with another blossoming into the same role?
What happens in Cleveland? Just a couple months ago Thomas was posturing that he was the best player in the game, but just not recognized as such due to his 5-9 frame ... and he's now playing alongside the actual best player in the game – how will those egos gel?
Taken 59 picks apart in the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving going first and Thomas 60th, they are an amazing example of how little – statistically at least – can separate someone viewed among the elite and another, initially, viewed as mediocre. Thomas, no doubt, has evolved from all-ran status to one of the game's most recognizable names.
He finished third in the league in scoring this past season (28.9 points per game), led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavs, and was believed to have become a staple in Boston.
But that final part changed, obviously by what happened Tuesday, the end resulting with Thomas now suiting up for his fourth team in seven seasons.
Reality is, Irving is a better player. Not just bigger by six inches, but better. Better handle, better shooter, better take-over talent, better in the clutch. He just is.
Without him, Cleveland doesn't win a championship in 2016. It also doesn't reach the finals in 2015 or this year.
Just don't envision Thomas having the same kind of impact. Oh, he might try to be “the man,” even at times when LeBron isn't handing over the keys like the King did with Kyrie, but he doesn't seem to have the same panache, or level of success, as his predecessor with the Cavs did.
If anything, Crowder could have a bigger hand in shaping Cleveland from this point on, hopefully by taking away minutes from Bambi-footed forward Tristan Thompson, and the draft pick, a non-protected one held by Brooklyn, could serve as the biggest return of all.
But, right now, just not seeing the benefit(s) all that clearly for Cleveland.
Nor for Boston, which has ended the budding bromance between Thomas and Hayward before it even started ... and placed its entire stack of chips on a talent whose game has yet to be determined if it was hurt by playing with LeBron, as Irving essentially has suggested, or helped by that.
Thinking the door has opened for Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee and – gulp – maybe even the Sixers now.
By the numbers