There are two sides to every coin, and while Cavs fans have to be ecstatic about the haul they received for Kyrie Irving, who last month demanded a trade, the Celtics have to be ecstatic about getting a 25-year-old All-Star who knows what it takes to win a championship.
Especially after bowing out to Irving and the Cavs in five games in the conference finals in May.
“There was a sense of panic that the Celtics weren’t going to be able to really take that next step anytime soon, and now it’s more like pandemonium and excitement for Celtics Nation adding a guy like Kyrie Irving, a 25-year-old four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist,” CSNNE Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakely said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The resume is ridiculous, how long it is for a guy that young. That’s really what the Celtics are selling to their fans: ‘We’re getting a guy who is already accomplished, and yet, he’s nowhere close to reaching his prime as a player.’”
Still, acquiring Irving came at significant cost. The Celtics dealt Isaiah Thomas, who finished third in the league in scoring last season (28.9 points per game), two-way player Jae Crowder, 20-year-old center Ante Zizic, and an unprotected 2018 first-round pick.
There’s no denying which asset Celtics fans will miss most.
“You cannot diminish the impact that Isaiah Thomas made on this Celtics team and on this franchise in just the couple years he was here,” Blakely said. “He really has been the heart and soul of this franchise, elevating them from being a team that just barely got into the playoffs a couple years ago to having the best record in the Eastern Conference and getting to the conference finals back in May. So obviously it’s a tough loss for the Celtics in terms of the talent they’re giving away, but they’re getting a heck of a player in return in Kyrie Irving.”
Brad Stevens has to be thrilled. He’s going from 25 wins to 40 wins to 48 wins to 53 wins in four years in Boston – and he did that without players such as Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Danny Ainge, meanwhile, finally made a franchise-altering move, dealing some of his seemingly limitless assets for Irving.
“He recognizes talent, and I think he recognized that the group he had – while they had a very good season – they weren’t going to get all that much better,” Blakely said. “Even with the addition of Gordon Hayward, they still seemed to be lacking that one player that is a game-changer. As great as Isaiah Thomas has been in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving is a special player. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. Adding him to the mix, they now feel that they’ve got a player that can potentially lead them to that next step, which for them would be getting to the NBA Finals. That is the natural progression for a franchise as we’ve seen under Brad Stevens, (who) seems to take one step closer to being a championship-contending team every year he’s been here.”