Tomase: With Kyrie Irving deadline approaching, why Celtics must get deal done
D-Day has (presumably) arrived. Will the Celtics complete a deal to acquire Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving?
Their motivation to do so far outstrips Cleveland’s, which is why I believe the answer will ultimately be yes.
According to multiple reports, the teams have until Wednesday evening to sign off on last week’s blockbuster or agree on an extension to continue talks. Irving — one of the 10 best players in the NBA — is tentatively headed to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Nets’ first-round pick.
The deal has been delayed since Thursday over the condition of Thomas’s injured hip, which concerned the Cavs during his physical. The Celtics thus far have refused to add sweeteners, but let’s be objective about this — they need the deal more than the Cavaliers do, and if they let it collapse over an additional, lottery-protected first-round pick, then it turns out we knew nothing about Danny Ainge after all.
The Celtics won’t let that happen because they can’t let that happen. Consider the ramifications on each franchise if the trade is reversed.
The Cavaliers must welcome back Irving, a player who has already declared he wants out, and whose relationship with star LeBron James appears frayed, to say the least. Irving and James have already won one title together, thanks to the former’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Warriors in 2016. They don’t seem built to win another without help, but they’d once again be overwhelming Eastern Conference favorites.
But that’s assuming Irving stays. The far more likely scenario is that he’s dealt. All of the reasons the Celtics wanted him remain in play for everyone else, and even if the Cavs don’t receive a package that includes a pick as enticing as Brooklyn’s, they could still cash in from someone like the Bucks for players (Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton?) and picks. Maybe the Suns will dangle a lottery pick. Maybe the Nuggets want him to compete in the West.
Whatever they decide, the Cavaliers clearly have options (and demanding Jayson Tatum isn’t one of them, incidentally; if that’s the holdup, then Ainge should walk away, because Cleveland clearly never had any intention of negotiating in good faith).
The same cannot be said of the Celtics. Thomas understandably feels betrayed after leading the Celtics to the conference finals following the death of his sister and hours of painful dental surgery, cementing his status as an immense fan favorite. Crowder is already working out in Cavs gear.
The Cavaliers granted Irving his wish by dealing him. The Celtics, conversely, blindsided one guy who never wanted to leave, and another who was born with a chip on his shoulder. Reintegration wouldn’t be smooth for Thomas, in particular.
And good luck trading him at this point. Whereas the market for Irving remains robust, it took a perfect situation to find a team willing to assume Thomas and his bad hip in his final year before free agency. The Cavaliers represent that perfect match, because he fits their one-year window before LeBron bolts for Hollywood, and the Nets pick provides hope for the future. Now that Thomas is considered damaged goods, it’s fair to wonder what, if anything, Ainge could acquire for him elsewhere.
The Celtics, therefore, lose on both ends. They’d have a tougher time welcoming their former players back, and they’d also have a harder time turning around and dealing them somewhere else.
Ainge has long described the hunt for a franchise player as a moving target. You can’t plan to win the lottery, you can’t plan for someone to want you in free agency, and you can’t plan for players like Kyrie Irving to suddenly become available after three straight trips to the Finals.
When the unforeseen happens, you’ve got to be ready to strike. Ainge did that with an aggressive offer for the 25-year-old superstar. There’s no way the Celtics, this close to the finish line, let it all fall apart over something as inconsequential as another draft pick.
Full article @ Tomase: With Kyrie Irving deadline approaching, why Celtics must get deal done
Source: GreenStreet Blog