Wow. Last night the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Nets pick for Kyrie Irving. As I said at 7:30 last night, I go off the grid to workout for ONE hour and I come back to find Trader Danny has fundamentally changed the structure of the Celtics with another blockbuster trade. Seriously, sleep with one eye open around this guy.
First things first, it sucks to see Isaiah Thomas go as he was absolutely integral in putting the Celtics back on the map the past couple of years and vice versa. Celtics went from a middling team to the No. 1 seed in the East. Isaiah went from a third string point guard in Phoenix to Boston finishing in the Top 5 for MVP. He had 40 and 50 point games while getting his teeth knocked out and even putting on dazzling performances after suffering tragic family losses. IT seemed like a genuinely good dude with a massive chip on his shoulder who just wanted to prove the world wrong. And he’s done that. IT, the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft just got traded for Kyrie, the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
While IT has been hands down my favorite Celtics player since KG and it sucks to see him go, Kyrie is so, so, so good that its hard to not like this deal. The Celtics upgraded at PG getting one of the best scorers in the entire NBA. Kyrie isn’t exactly a defensive savant either but he’s 6 inches taller than IT, which alone will allow him to more effectively cover the positon defensively. Kyrie is also going to create even more space for the Celtics on offense, especially in the playoffs, as other teams won’t be able to smother and trap Kyrie as they were prone to do with IT. Teams will have to account for his one-on-on play and continuously have help defenders and double teams waiting for Kyrie, which will open up even more opportunities for guys like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward.
- “Kyrie is not that much of an upgrade over Isaiah.”
- He’s 3 years younger, healthier, bigger and has one more year left on his contract than Isaiah. At just 25 years old Kyrie can grow with the Celtics core of Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum and be right in his prime as the other two are coming into theirs. As much as I love Isaiah, the core probably would not have been good enough quick enough as he and Horford would be in their 30s by the time Brown and Tatum enter their prime.
- “The Celtics have just wrecked their team chemistry.”
- This I admit could be an issue as the Celtics now only return 4 players from the 2016 team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals and only 1 out of 5 starters. That is CRAZY. However, one of the reason’s I’m not higher on the NBA in general is because, more than any other sport, talent wins above all else. It doesn’t matter how great your chemistry is if you don’t have 2 or 3 of the best players in the league. The NBA is built around a core of hypertalented superstars and if you don’t have at least a couple of them you’re porked.
- “I hate to trade Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic.”
- Always loved Crowder and he was a key guy off the bench. Again this is why I’m not a GM, but if we’re going to look at this emotionlessly, thats what Crowder was; a guy off the bench. You do not turn down trades for 25-year old 4x All-Stars over bench players. And for anyone crying about trading Ante Zizic I ask you this; Have you ever even seen Zizic play? Granted I’m not a scout, but this is a guy who was so good that he couldn’t get on an NBA roster and got stashed overseas his rookie year. I’m not sweating over trading a guy with exactly 0 minutes played in the NBA. Plus, we still have the Dancing Bear.
- “Who is going to rebound for us?”
- WHO HAS REBOUNDED FOR US THE LAST FOUR YEARS?! The Celtics as an organization have effectively punted on rebounding. Last year the Celtics were 22nd in Offensive Rebounds per game and 22nd in Defensive Rebounds per game. Not exactly world beaters to begin with.
- “I hate trading the 2018 Nets pick.”
- It sucks to trade one of our treasured assets, but thats exactly why Danny got them. He’s been trying to trade these things for years, he just has never found a deal he wanted to pull the trigger on. Plus how many of these things are you going to keep? The Celtics have already drafted No. 3 overall the past 2 years and still have a potential Top 5 pick next year (more on that below.)
How about Danny Ainge though? This guy has effectively turned a 36-year old Paul Pierce and a 37-year old Kevin Garnett directly or indirectly into: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and the 2018 Lakers potential No. 2-5 pick.
And if Kyrie re-signs with the Celtics then Danny looks like an even bigger genius for the Jayson Tatum move, trading down from the No. 1 overall pick to No. 3 while also scooping up the 2018 Lakers pick from Philly. This is HUGE looking back because without that Lakers pick in his back pocket I highly doubt Danny makes the Kyrie trade, having to surrender the Nets pick. He basically, as many said at the time, got the guy he wanted in Tatum while also picking up an additional draft pick. And while many people laughed at Danny for trading the No. 1 overall pick for another one of his coveted draft picks, the fact of the matter is he got a great player while also adding a back up lottery pick, which allowed him to more aggressively shop the Nets 2018 pick.
For those of you that are mourning the end of the “Pierce/KG Nets Trade” well fear not, because its not over, not really. The Celtics got that 2018 Lakers pick by trading the No. 1 overall pick, which was the Nets pick. So we still have one more year to live off of the Nets misery if we’re getting technical. One more asset/player to build off of, while the Nets continue to send Billy King hate mail.
PS – This Isaiah trade just reinforces my longstanding personal policy of never buying a player’s jersey unless they’ve recently signed a contract extension. I’ll never forget buying a Sergei Samsonov jersey in 2006, only to see the Bruins trade him A WEEK LATER. Which is why the next Bruins jersey I bought was a Patrice Bergeron jersey, fresh off his 8-year contract extension.