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After a bit of unexpected drama, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to trade All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for fellow All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, rookie center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round draft pick, and a 2020 second-round pick.
It’s a move that will have huge repercussions in the Eastern Conference, especially if the teams meet again in the Conference Finals this season.
While we don’t yet know how the trade will work out for all parties involved, there are some clear winners and losers from the deal. Take a look below to see who benefits from one of the biggest trades of the decade.
WINNER: Kyrie Irving
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Kyrie Irving gets what he wants out of this deal – most importantly, out of Cleveland and the shadow of LeBron James. But after Irving announced that he wanted a trade, many spectulated that the Cavs would send him to a bad team, both out of a bit of pettiness and also to avoid having to face him on a contender. Instead, Irving finds himself on the second-best team in the East with the chance to write his own legend.
LOSER: Isaiah Thomas
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After journeying across the league for some time, it really felt like Isaiah Thomas had found a home in Boston. The city rallied around him and he played his heart out every game in a way rarely seen by star players outside of Russell Westbrook. But the biggest reason Thomas is a loser in this deal is financial – in the last year of his contract, Thomas was hoping to get a max deal this offseason, and if he had another great season in Boston, he might have won the leverage to do so. With the move, earning a max deal seems like much more of a long shot.
WINNER: Cleveland Cavaliers
This trade is a win for the Cavs in that it helps both their short term and long term plans. For next season, Cleveland can still take the court with an All-Star point guard, and also get useful minutes out of Crowder and Zizic. It makes for a quality lineup, and with rumors of Wade pushing for a buyout so he can join LeBron and company, there’s a chance the Cavs do enough to win a title and keep James in town for a while longer. However, if the Cavs fall short and James leaves for Los Angeles as long speculated, Cleveland has a set of younger assets as well as a first-round pick to help get started on building a future.
LOSER: NBA 2K18
NBA2K just debuted Irving as their 2018 cover star in early July, and of course he was wearing a Cavaliers jersey in the promoted images. 2K has a branding decision to make now – either rush production on some new art before the game’s scheduled release date of September 19, or take an out of date product to market.
WINNER: Brad Stevens
- Maddie Meyer/Getty
While some are split on just how good this deal was for the Celtics, especially when players like Jimmy Butler and Paul George were available earlier in free agency, there’s no doubt that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving is a win for head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens is known for his ability to adapt to the players around him and suit their play, and with so much talent now assembled in Boston, it will be exciting to see what he’s capable of putting together.
LOSER: Owners and fans who demand player “loyalty”
Few players have played as hard for a city as Thomas showed last season. He put the team on his back game after game, and returned to the court just days after his sister’s death to lead the Celtics on their playoff run. In return, he got shipped to the Cavs. Basketball is a business and owners and management have a right to do whatever they think is best for the franchise, but next time you see people burning jerseys because a superstar leaves their team, know that the team would do the same to them without hesitation.
On a lighter note, a Twitter user was retweeted by LeBron James after faking like he was going to light Irving’s jersey on fire, but instead leaving a thank you note for the player, as you can see above. This is the proper way to applaud athletes that brought you joy as they leave your city.
Ok Cavs fans you know what to do.. pic.twitter.com/pZMI6SX8Hb
— tony hartman (@tony_hartman) August 22, 2017
WINNER: NBA on TNT
The Celtics and Cavaliers meet in Cleveland in the very first game of the 2017-18 NBA season on October 17 on TNT. It will likely be the most compelling game of the first two weeks of the season at the very least, with fans getting to see how the new teams play together and how the newly departed superstars interact with their old teams. It’s a can’t miss game for basketball fans and will likely draw huge ratings for the network.
Now take a look back at the talented 2011 draft class that brought both Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas to the league
- Maddie Meyer/Getty