Breaking Down the Kyrie-Isaiah Swap

On Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics traded away Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, Jae Crowder, and a 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving. I’m gonna start out by saying that I hate this trade. Not only did the Celtics move Isaiah Thomas for a very comparable player in Kyrie Irving, they added on Crowder who has one of the best value contracts in the NBA, in addition to Zizic who could be an elite rim protector down the line. And that isn’t even the worst part. The 2018 Nets pick is unprotected and could be a top three pick in an absolutely loaded 2018 class that features Michael Porter Jr, Marvin Bagley, and Luka Doncic.

As a fan, losing Isaiah flat out sucks seeing as he’s been the heart and soul of the Celtics’ rebuild these past few years, and his recruitment of Al Horford is a big reason why Horford is on the C’s today. While I think Thomas is the better playing, moving him for Kyrie makes sense if you consider that Thomas is on the last year of his contract and Irving is under contract for another three years, so while it sucks losing IT i’m not sure he’s worth what could be a five year supermax contract, so given that situation i’m ok with the swap. Even the inclusion of Crowder isn’t terrible seeing that the Celtics have a done of depth on the wing and his playing time would go down a little bit. Still, his contract is crazy good for Boston especially when compared to his production. It’s even crazier that the Celtics gave up Zizic who has a lot of potential, and while raw, is the rim protector the Celtics have been lacking for a while. I wouldn’t have been too happy if it was just those three in the deal, but I get physically sick when I consider that the Celtics gave up the 2018 Nets pick. I truly do not understand what Kyrie Irving has done that makes him worth a potential superstar. Kyrie is a very good player, but by no means is he a superstar. Marvin Bagley? He could be a superstar. Same can be said for Doncic and Porter Jr. Bagley is probably the highest upside NBA prospect since Anthony Davis. And the Celtics gave all that up for a ball dominant point guard who is no better than the ball dominant point guard they had. Heck, Kyrie is barely an upgrade on defense as he’s abysmal when it comes to defending the pick and roll. Not to mention that he believes the world is flat. Off the court, Irving’s trade request showed he could care less about winning by requesting a trade to get out of LeBron’s shadow with a trade list that included bottom feeders like the New York Knicks. This is to say nothing of the fact he’s never averaged more than 6.1 APG playing alongside LeBron and Kevin Love. Sure, he averaged 25.2 PPG last season, but Isaiah averaged 28.9 PPG with 5.9 APG while Kyrie averaged 5.8 APG. In terms of win shares, Isaiah was clearly the better player, posting 12.5 while Kyrie put up 8.9.

I think this trade put the Celtics a good two steps back from the Cavs. I think Cleveland not only gets better this season, but if LeBron resigns and they resign Thomas and draft Bagley, Porter, or Doncic, it’s game over for the Celtics. They may have just made a trade to make themselves worse and put their biggest threat in the East in the driver’s seat.

A lot of trades Danny Ainge makes that don’t seem to be smart can at least be defended. I’m not sure this one can. I trusted Ainge when the Celtics traded away the #1 overall pick this summer and that’s a deal that looks like it could work out for Boston. I just don’t see any way this really helps the Celtics. Especially when you look at what stars like Jimmy Butler and Paul George got traded for this summer, it really makes this one much more a headscratcher. George got traded for what was the equivalent of Avery Bradley (he was on the team when George got traded) and Zizic (Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis went to Indiana) while Butler went for a pick swap (Bulls moved to #9 from #16 in the 1st round), Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine. I don’t doubt that teams asked the Celtics for more given the assets they had, and i’m ok with not trading for those two, and it might not be fair to compare this trade to the George trade since Indiana had to trade George since he told them he’d be a free agent next year. However, when you pass on those two and then make a godfather offer for Irving, who isn’t as good as Butler or George, I don’t understand it at all. I’m sorry Danny, but I can’t defend this one.

Even just looking at the pure stats, it’s pretty clear Boston got fleeced. I hate to say it, but it’s true. The Celtics traded two starters and a whole lot of potential to their in-conference rivals for what really is a downgrade at point guard just for a couple more years of stability. I really don’t know what else I can say. I guess the plus side is the Celtics held onto Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but losing the Nets pick really stings and I don’t see how this made Boston a better team. All that’s left to do is pray that Danny knew what he was doing.

What do you think of the Isaiah Thomas-Kyrie Irving Trade?


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