Anderson: Celtics have more than just Kyrie Irving to lose if Cavs void trade
An executive known for his savvy approach and calculated maneuvering, it turns out that one, four-letter word may come back to derail the biggest move that Celtics president Danny Ainge has made since acquiring Kevin Garnett over a decade ago.
It was the answer Ainge gave when asked if concerns regarding the battered hip of 28-year-old point guard Isaiah Thomas played a factor in the Câ€™s decision to send him — along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn first-round pick — to the Cavaliers in exchange for superstar guard Kyrie IrvingÂ this past Tuesday.
That was all the Cavs, who reportedly made this trade largely due to their desireÂ for the Netsâ€™ pick but also needed Thomas to make it work, needed to hear to pay extra attention to a Thomas physical in Cleveland thatâ€™s come back with Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman potentially seeking an adjustment (at the very least) to what was a four-for-one swap from the Celtics.
That has, barring a successful phone call of assurance from the Celtics today, left the Cavaliers with three options: They can keep the trade the way it is, decide that Thomasâ€™ hip is fine, and go on with their business. (No way that happens, if you ask me, asÂ Altman is a rookie GM that sees an opportunity to further maximize the return on Irving.) They can rework the trade and demand more from the Celtics — be it another draft pick or a depth piece — and accept the new deal. Thatâ€™s something the Celtics, who still have tons of picks and some seemingly expendable assets still in town, could begrudgingly do. Or the Cavaliers could simply nullify the deal, pulling a Back to the Future on the last five days.
The likely fallouts are obviously bad news for the Celtics, who have way more to lose if this deal is altered or reversed, than the Cavaliers do or ever did, for that matter.
Irving has been honest about wanting out of Cleveland. He doesnâ€™t want to play with LeBron James — or at the very least wants to be in a situation where he’s notÂ surrounded by Jamesâ€™ drama for an entire season, especially in a season that many consider to be his last in town — and wants the chance to be â€˜the guyâ€™ somewhere else.
If Irving goes back to Cleveland, itâ€™s not for long, especially with the demand for his talents.
The Celtics, however, have not been honest about shopping Isaiah Thomas, or moving the Brooklyn pick. One was considered a potential franchise cornerstone, and the other has been viewed as a their Golden Ticket in many ways, whether itâ€™s kept or moved. And as Aingeâ€™s non-moves for Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis told you, it was going to take a lot to move that pick in the first place.
The pick doesnâ€™t have a name or face yet. But Thomas most certainly does.
A talent thatâ€™s given everything to the Celtics — Thomas played two days after the death of his sister, willed the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals on a bum hip, and was more than instrumental in recruiting both Al Horford and Gordon Hayward to Boston as free agents the last two summersÂ — itâ€™s hard to come to terms with the way that Boston fans loved Thomas. This was a player that was only here for two and a half years, but was treated like a player here for two decades.
Oh, and by the way: The Celtics essentially told him that he was not good enough. Itâ€™s tough to say that that was not the case when you acquire a player that plays the same position — but is six inches taller, three years ago, and signed for big money (the same money that Thomas feels his deserves for what heâ€™s given to the Câ€™s) for the next two years at least.
This would be a tough — borderline impossible, even — fence to successfully mend if the Cavaliers went all out and decided to void this deal and send all players back to their respective teams. Would Thomas simply forgive, forget, and re-follow all of the Celtic accounts heâ€™s unfollowed since the trade, and then re-sign in town? Hard to imagine, especially when you look at Thomas’ somewhat vengeful career path of making those that doubted him look stupid.
And a reverse of this trade means that youâ€™d not only be losing out on Irving, but that youâ€™d alienate your best player from a year ago, and likely need to address that in some way, be it a separate trade where heâ€™s sold low because of this ailing hip, or kept in Boston with some serious PR backpedaling and phony smiles.
Even then, Thomasâ€™ problems remain, just back in Boston opposed to Cleveland.
â€œ[Thomas] has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September when he arrives back here out East, and from there we will know an exact timeline,” Stevens told Chris Mannix in a podcast for The Vertical, recorded and released when Thomas was still a member of the Celtics. â€œItâ€™s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but weâ€™re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.
â€œWe want whatâ€™s best for Isaiah,â€� Stevens continued. â€œWe want to make sure that when he is ready to roll — which hopefully is sooner rather than later — that he is ready to roll at his highest level and for the longest possible time, obviously, right?â€�
That all sounded far less than ideal then, and it sounds even worse now that the Celtics knowingly traded a player that was not at 100 percent health, or potentially close to it.
And while Iâ€™ll leave the official diagnosing to the concerned docs in Cleveland,Â I canâ€™t imagine injured hips — or hips injured to the point where it forces you, a player known for wanting the limelight and everything that comes with it, out of the biggest stage of your career, I should say — getting better without some sort of procedure. Itâ€™s also hard to think a player that takes the kind of beating that Thomas regularly does will be OK just because heâ€™s gone swimming a few times this summer, especially if it’s true that Thomas is still not even running.
Isaiahâ€™s hip, which for some reason was not deemed worthy of a surgical repair this summer, has always been a ticking timebomb, and may have finally blown up at the worst possible time and in the middle of this franchise-altering trade.
Honesty is the best policy, but itâ€™s clear that the Celtics said too much — on both the health of Thomas and their pure glee with acquiring Irving — and now the odds, which will be decided by the Cavsâ€™ next move, suggest that they will pay for it in some fashion that will force Ainge to deviate from his current plan and path for a new Celtic dynasty.
Full article @ Anderson: Celtics have more than just Kyrie Irving to lose if Cavs void trade
Source: GreenStreet Blog