NBA 

Irving, Thomas swapped in blockbuster deal

Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland and now he has his wish.

On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the unprotected 2018 Brooklyn Nets draft pick.

Irving, who is 25-years old, waived a $5.8 million trade kicker, which is 15 percent of the total money remaining on his Cleveland deal. He has three years and $60 million left on his current deal and can opt out before the final year of the deal before the 2019-20 season.

For Irving, he wanted to be the man and the focal point of a team and now he has his that opportunity in Boston. He will be playing alongside Gordon Heyward, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft.

Thomas, 28, has been the heart and soul of the Celtics since arriving before the 2015 trade deadline from Sacramento. He led Boston to the best record in the Eastern Conference as well as the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs. He averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game during the regular season.

Unfortunately for Thomas and the Celtics, he missed the final three games of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a hip injury, which he opted to not have surgery on during the offseason. Cleveland is said to be aware of the injury and don’t consider it to be a major issue, but will monitor it over the course of the season.

This could be a rental-type deal for Cleveland when it comes to Thomas, who becomes a free agent after the season. He feels he is a max-contract player, so it will be interesting to see how he pans out for the Cavs.

Crowder is a nice addition for Cleveland. He is a good perimeter defender, something the Cavs need help in as they ranked 22nd in team defense a season ago. He is a player who will play his role and do what is asked of him. He averaged 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season, Crowder, along with Thomas, were a major part of the Boston core coming back to relevancy.

Zizic is a 20-year old out of Croatia who was Boston’s first round pick in 2016. He is 6-11, 240 with a ton of upside. He was included in the deal for salary purposes.

There was a big key for each team in the making of the deal. For Boston, they were able to acquire Irving without giving up Tatum, who the team covets very highly and think has a bright future in the league. For Cleveland, they acquired the Nets 2018 unprotected pick, which could very well be the No. 1 overall pick. This pick can either be used in a trade for another All-Star or can be used to help the rebuilding process should LeBron James leave after this season as he has been rumored to be doing.

Normally, a trade of this magnitude doesn’t occur inside the same conference, especially when the two team just met in the Conference Finals with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. The Cavs, who have had an up-and-down offseason, considered by some to be toxic, were given a breath of fresh air with this trade, thanks to Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations of the Celtics.

These two teams could and should end up back in the Eastern Conference Finals for a second consecutive season. The result could be different, however, James still plays in Cleveland and that will be a tough task for Boston to overcome.

Fun fact about this trade; Irving was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft and Thomas was the 60th and final pick of the same draft.

What makes this deal even sweeter is the fact that these two teams open up the regular season against one another on October 17.

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