The Boston Celtics roster might look a lot different than it does right now if LeBron James got his way and the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to a different team.
"League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn't be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard," Bucher wrote. "The Cavs never called the Blazers, but James' interest has led to speculation about the Lakers trading for Lillard."
If the Celtics didn't get Irving, they might not be in a strong position to contend for Eastern Conference and NBA championships over the next several seasons. If Isaiah Thomas stayed, would Terry Rozier have blossomed as a star like he did when Irving was lost with a season-ending injury in April? In addition to Thomas, the Celtics also gave up their last first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets in the Irving trade. Would the Celtics have traded that Nets pick for a different star?
Jae Crowder was part of that trade, too, and he would've taken minutes and shots away from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- would these two young stars have developed as well as they did if he remained on the roster through the 2017-18 campaign?
The Cavs, meanwhile, would've been much better off if Irving was dealt for Lillard. Lillard is an elite scorer and probably would be a great fit alongside James. The Cavs also would have given the Golden State Warriors a competitive 2018 NBA Finals if they had Lillard starting at point guard instead of George Hill. Instead, the Cavs got smoked by the Warriors in a Finals sweep and James bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency over the summer.
Maybe James stays if Lillard is on the Cavs. In that scenario, James and the Cavs would have remained a huge roadblock for the Celtics in their journey back to the NBA Finals.
There are many "what if?" scenarios here, but so far it all has worked out for the Celtics.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE