Celtics

What would the Celtics look like if the Kyrie Irving trade didn’t happen?

(John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

One year is generally too little time to pass judgment on any trade in the NBA, particularly when draft picks are involved. Yet, 12 months later — the megatrade went down one-year ago today — the Cavs don’t have a ton left to show for the Kyrie Irving trade, outside of their No. 8 pick in this year’s draft (Colin Sexton).   

With LeBron James now out of Cleveland, the C’s biggest disaster scenario in the aftermath of the Irving deal has been eliminated. The pieces acquired last August did not help the Cavs convince James to stay over the long haul, in part due to some mismanagement by the front office along the way.

While the C’s outlook from this deal is far rosier, they aren’t out of the woods yet either entirely. Irving remains a health question mark and the possibility of him walking from Boston after this season is not probable, but is certainly possible. Neither of those caveats would prevent Danny Ainge from pulling the trigger on the deal again if he had the chance, but they also add an extra element of urgency to the upcoming season for the C's.

The fascinating question to consider here while we look at what’s left of the trade from both sides is what exactly would the Celtics look like right now if the Irving trade had fallen apart at the last second or didn’t go through, to begin with. Would that situation have been appealing at all for Boston from a long-term standpoint? Let’s take a look to see what options Ainge may have been left with and whether any of those possibilities would have been enticing.

Original trade: Celtics trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 unprotected first-round pick via Brooklyn and a 2020 second-round pick via Miami for Irving.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas played 32 games this season between the Lakers and Cavs. He averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists after the Cavs traded him to the Lakers at the trade deadline, before electing to undergo season-ending surgery.

Would he have helped the Celtics last season and moving forward?