Adrian Wojnarowski explains how the Celtics and Cavaliers finalized the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade with Boston by adding a second-round pick to seal the deal. Whether the five days of limbo the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics went through since Friday, when the Cavs put their agreed-upon deal on life support because of Isaiah Thomas ' health, was worth it or not is secondary at this point. Sure, all that dance got Cleveland was Miami 's second-round pick added to the deal, and it might have compromised the working relationship between new Cavs general manager Koby Altman and Boston's Danny Ainge in the process.
What the Cavs accomplished late Wednesday night was officially turning the page from the Kyrie Irving era in Cleveland and gave the franchise options in both the short and long term. As tantalizing a talent Irving is -- and his Could the relationship have been saved had Altman never secured a deal that included an asset like Brooklyn 's unprotected first-round pick?
However, in the wake of David Griffin's dismissal as GM, the Cavs didn't really have the right guy on the payroll to mend the bridge between Irving and the rest of the team. And as the summer wore on and rumblings became louder and louder that Irving would rather sit out training camp than put on a Cavs uniform again, a trade became a necessity for the three-time reigning Eastern Conference champions.
Cleveland must now focus on what it has -- how best to utilize it -- and what it needs -- how best to acquire it -- in order to get back to the Finals for a fourth straight year and be able to beat the Golden State Warriors should it match up with The Beast from The Bay once again.
That means Cleveland had better hope Derrick Rose truly will have onlookers saying that "he can still play," as he vowed to the Associated Press this week, when he is the Cavs' presumptive starting point guard to begin the season, or else their team will have a major hole to fill. Veteran guard Jose Calderon and second-year guard Kay Felder cannot be relied on for starters minutes at this point.
Considering LeBron James ' ability on the ball as a distributor, Cleveland might not be losing too much sleep on the point guard situation, actually. Where the Cavs should be entering the season with a degree of concern is on the defensive end. Cleveland ranked just 22nd in defensive efficiency last season, allowing Enter Jae Crowder , a sturdy perimeter defender who will be able to play backup minutes for both James and Kevin Love and take James' spot on the eight to 10 nights when James will likely be pulled from the lineup for a DNP-Rest.
And, small sample size of course, but the Warriors had a net rating of Having a defensive identity from the start of the season and being able to fall back on those habits when the going gets tough in a playoff series is as important as anything the Cavs could have done personnel-wise this offseason to get back to a championship level, after all. The addition of Crowder also could make Love expendable, allowing Cleveland to dangle either the All-Star stretch forward, the Brooklyn pick -- or both -- on the market in February to make a push to revamp the roster before the postseason.
Of course, the Brooklyn pick gives Cleveland a potential lottery selection -- or even in the top-five range, if the Nets really struggle -- next season to restart the franchise should James opt out of his contract in the summer of and bolt as a free agent. Plus, Ante Zizic and the Miami pick could bear fruit in the future before you scoff at the value of a second-rounder, remember that both Thomas and Crowder were second-round selections. But again, that's a story for a another day.
Seeing Irving go out the door is jarring, but ever since he requested a trade on July 7, this was the inevitable outcome. Cavs fans will always have the memories of Irving's pull-up 3-pointer in Game 7 of the Finals, capturing the city its first professional sports championship in 52 years. Now, the only thing the Cavs should be lasered in on is how to get that second championship -- this season -- before things could fall apart next summer. They need only look across the table to their trade partner in Ainge and the Celtics, who thought they had a core back in that would net multiple rings, to know that one trophy doesn't guarantee another.
The question to be answered is, with Irving being so instrumental in the first one for Cleveland, does this move actually help or hurt their pursuit of the second?
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