The lots of opinion on the result of the trade consummated between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers on who benefited more are generally dead on split. I got the Celtics in this one.
They got the best player in the deal, and a magnificent one at that, lost a player they probably would not want to overpay along with others who they can easily replace, and open minutes for promising rookies to speed up their development.
If there’s one thing I hate about professional team sports is that teams will have to build a winning group of individuals where a component can be removed and replaced to attain the goal.
Professional sports is called such because its business. Change in ownership, in team composition, in team dynamics, and fan/team satisfaction agendas are common sights in professional teams.
I remembered the Big J, Robert Jaworski, lamenting on being treated as meat for sale, “por kilo” he said, and refused to report to Beer Hausen after Toyota was sold to Basic Holdings.
He was correct in some ways, but trades, free agency pickings, player transfers and changes in ownership of the franchise face are also undeniable occurrences in professional sports that sometimes a team has to undergo.
It’s why a team, a fan base, or a follower often becomes agitated when a player, who is so connected to the team, gets booted out.
It’s no secret that Boston and Cleveland are two of the teams chasing NBA supremacy. And as this season starts, both teams have big concerns regarding the consistent ability of their current rosters to get deep in the playoffs for a foreseeable future.
When Kyrie Irving became available, Boston has to consider it, even at the expense of Isaiah Thomas. And they did. They were never afraid to do it. They did it to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the very reason why they can do this trade now.
The Celtics also could not accommodate both Irving and Thomas because of playing time issues. It is the very reason why Thomas became a Celtic. He was in a three guard line-up that was too short and was selected to be shipped out.
These are facets of life that a professional athlete could sometimes face.
Small but Terrible
Isaiah Thomas showed why underdogs should never be doubted, even under the most difficult situations, and I loved him for that. He made last year one of the most treasured memories that I would like to store as a Celtics fan, even though they exited in the conference finals.
Point though is, I feel he is more fitted as a sixth man of the team and should not be paid as the highest of the team. If I were the Celtics, I wouldn’t build the team around a 5’9” point guard who loves to shoot and who is asking for a big chunk of the salary cap in a league of giants.
Building a team around Thomas is really difficult because of his size. It is an inherent weakness that opponents readily pounce. We are used to seeing defenses adjust to help stop a big guy. The Celtics case with Thomas is bizarre since defenders leave their man to help Thomas stop the opposing point guard.
It was my opinion that if the Celtics want to retain Thomas, they would have traded for Jimmy Butler, a bigger and defensive-minded guard to play alongside Thomas. When they didn’t, then drafted Jason Tatum, and got Gordon Hayward instead, I kinda knew they weren’t ready to pay Thomas and are looking to trade him.
It hurts, however, for this Celtics fan to see this diminutive guard, a non-troublesome individual, full of heart, loves and is loved by the city, and is loyal to the team, go. I’m sure the Celtics would have loved to retain him if he agrees to come off the bench for a lower price.
Losing Jae Crowder is also a blessing for Boston since they have enough bodies to replace him and it opens up playing time for their promising rookies. Remember, they have Hayward, Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Morris, who all can mimic what Crowder has been doing for them.
(Sept. 8 Update: According to a Yahoo report, Crowder was concerned with his role in the Celtics line-up and respected the Celtics for trading him.)
I feel the Brooklyn pick was needed to make Cleveland agree to the deal and Zizic was necessary to make the salaries match.
Clearly, the Celtics lost nothing but some sentimental value here while gaining a top five point guard who has lots of promise to develop as one of the few transcendent, franchise-changing players of the league.
Not bad of a Haul
Cleveland, however, did not do badly here. They got a good return regardless if Lebron James will leave after this season.
I feel the unprotected Brooklyn is the centerpiece of the deal for them.
If Lebron stays, they can convert it to a secondary superstar to play beside him to boost their efforts in toppling the Golden State Warriors of the throne.
If James leaves, they can retain the right to draft a young player who potentially occupies a high spot.
Thomas should be a more manageable problem than with Boston. His defensive liability due to his size can be offset by the defensive advantage provided by Lebron, ironically, also because of his size. Opponents would find exploiting Thomas more difficult when an oversized, very mobile small forward is lurking just nearby. The Lebron-IT pairing should be a perfect fit in my opinion.
This pairing would also make Thomas realize that he is off in asking for a “brinks truck”. I believe he should be paid, not just at the amount he is asking.
Crowder is also a perfect fit to enable James some rest on the bench. The +/- figures show a steep drop whenever James take a seat. With Crowder, that would probably be minimized.
Ante Zizic and the Celtics 2020 second round pick are too raw to predict. Only will tell if they would factor in on who actually won this trade.
For now, chalked the win for the Celtics as the Cavs perfected the exchange late evening of August 31 to make the trade final.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS