Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman have finalized their trade of Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
The front office received good value for Irving considering he reportedly desperately wanted out of Cleveland. Isaiah Thomas is is a two-time NBA All-Star who made the All-NBA Second-Team last season. Jae Crowder has a strong skillet on both ends of the court. Ante Zizic brings high potential as an international talent.
However, recent reports indicate the move was completed as a way to prepare for the potential departure of LeBron James (via The Ringer):
“Multiple sources told me that Gilbert is operating under the assumption that LeBron will opt out of his contract next summer and leave Cleveland. So Gilbert and Altman targeted Irving trade packages that set up the franchise for the post-LeBron era, rather than the instant-gratification deals they’ve made over the last three years (e.g., trading first-rounders for Channing Frye or Kyle Korver). A front-office executive from another team inquiring about Irving told me that knowing LeBron was staying in Cleveland would have changed what the Cavs asked for in return for Kyrie.”
While it’s not a foregone conclusion James will leave Cleveland, it seems the Cavaliers were forced to act as if it’s a strong possibility. If the team believed James was going to stay with his hometown franchise, their trade would have looked different.
That seems to be the reason why the Cavs valued the pick from the Nets so much. They can use this asset to help rebuild the team if James decides to opt out of his contract.
It’s also interesting that Thomas will have an expiring contract at the end of the season as well. Regardless of his health next season, this means that the team can decide to replace him (or at the very least reevaluate their future) if James signs with a different team.
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