The Celtics will be adding a new All-Star point guard to their roster next season at the expense of their current one.
League sources confirmed to Bostonsportsjournal.com on Tuesday the Celtics have agreed to trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 unprotected first round pick from Brooklyn from Kyrie Irving. Shams Charamia of Yahoo Sports was first to report the deal.
The Cavs point guard has wanted out of Cleveland for months now, as he pushes to escape from the LeBron James spotlight in Cleveland and it appears he will get that chance in Boston.
Initial thoughts: It’s hard not to look at this deal from the Celtics perspective and think, “Wow, that’s a lot of assets to give up.” Thomas is an All-Star (albeit one who’s on the mend). Crowder still has one of the best role-player contracts in the league (non-rookie edition). Zizic is a young big man with promise. The 2018 unprotected Nets pick could very well be at the top of the lottery.
The Celtics piled all those assets together for two years of Irving, and my initial reaction to the deal is the same as most: This is an overpay. A very risky one. Irving is a superstar offensive player who is just 25, and is signed to an under-market deal for the next two seasons. He’s an ideal building block going forward to pair with Gordon Hayward. However, he’s only the right building block if he’s acquired at the right price. I think this might be a bit above that.
The Celtics have, in essence, restocked the Cavs with some firepower in exchange for Irving. Boston sends them an elite point guard, a valuable role player in Crowder and a young piece to build with in the 2018 Brooklyn pick (if LeBron leaves town). But the package the Celtics sent here might just be enough to convince LeBron to stay in Cleveland. One can easily make the case that adding Thomas and Crowder to LeBron, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson still makes them the team to beat in the Eastern Conference for next season -- and perhaps beyond -- if everyone stays put.
It’s true that the Celtics still have plenty of assets left over. There are young players (Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum) and plenty more future first-round picks (2018 Lakers protected, 2019 Memphis, 2019 LA Clippers). The cupboard isn't bare. However, the full package the Celtics sent to Cleveland here feels like a premium is involved, particularly when you compare it to the deals that fetched Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the last couple months. Those guys seem to have been traded for table scraps when compared to this deal. The Celtics were in on George, but their hands were tied to a degree as they waited for Hayward in free agency.
Perhaps the Celtics were getting antsy to a degree with their treasure chest of assets. Maybe they didn’t believe in Thomas recreating his magical year, or they think the Nets are going to be a lot better than most predict. (I think they may be right about that.) Still, even when you factor all of those reasonable considerations into the equation, this was a heavy price to play.
One thing is clear though: The Celtics are big believers in Kyrie Irving, and the former Duke star is going to have be pretty damn amazing to justify his hefty price tag.
Much more to come here analyzing the situation at Boston Sports Journal, but in the meantime, you can read my breakdowns of possible trade scenarios from July.