Celtics' terrible Kyrie Irving trade a saving grace for CavaliersCeltics' terrible Kyrie Irving trade a saving grace for Cavaliers
You’re Danny Ainge.
You have a roster loaded with young assets and a likeable team fresh off earning the No. 1 seed in the East. You have only one roadblock to the NBA Finals: a floundering roadblock, one faced with the inevitability of parting with its second-best player in Kyrie Irving for 70 cents on the dollar.
If you just sit and do nothing, the Cavs get worse and the door bursts open not only to beat them in the playoffs, but also for LeBron James to head west in the offseason.
Instead, you throw them a life vest.
You actually made your toughest opponent better than they were last season.
You gave Cleveland your two spiritual leaders. You gave them a huge chunk of the toughness and tenacity that shaped your team's identity. You gave them guys LeBron will want to go to battle with. You gave them Isaiah Thomas — whose numbers suggest he's a virtualwash with Irving offensively — and Jae Crowder, who possesses the rare physicality to at least attempt bothering LeBron. You gave the Cavs depth.
You also, of course, delivered the reverse impact to your own team. And any slight improvement defensively that comes with Irving over Thomas — a common talking point for those supporting the move — will be negated by whoever steps in for Crowder.
But, you say, you set yourself up better for the future by securing Irving. Well if Marvin Bagley III or Michael Porter Jr. is dominating in a Cavs uniform, while Kyrie leaves as a free agent three years from now, you might be wishing you kept that Nets draft pick (and that Heat one you threw in just to complete the deal).
Your Celtics have gotten some shiny new toys in the offseason. But, along with Avery Bradley, you’ve given away three of your four leading scorers from last year. You've given away fan favorites who saw their careers blossom in green, players who embodied the gritty ethos of a team that reached the Eastern Conference finals.
And now you have a stronger opponent to face when — if — you get back there.