Kyrie Irving’s trade changes everything

Kyrie Irving’s blockbuster trade to the Boston Celtics is the pièce de résistance of the wildest NBA offseason in recent memory. Franchise players — Chris Paul, Paul George — have jumped ship like the high dive, but even those moves are an order of magnitude lower than Kyrie to the Celtics.

LeBron and Kyrie took the Cavs to the NBA Finals three straight years. They were one-for-three in that time, but just getting to the Finals is no easy task. Yes, LeBron attends the Finals in perpetuity given that the Eastern Conference is his personal jungle gym, but it was Kyrie that with the dagger in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals:

The Cavs were a ticking time bomb with Irving’s displeasure plastered all over the headlines. All things considered, this is a win-win for the Cavs and the Celtics; Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first-round pick. Isaiah Thomas is an All-Star and Crowder had a career year, averaging 14 points and and nearly 6 boards. More importantly, Crowder does things that don’t show up in the stat box. He’s a hustle player; the kind of guy you want on your team. He’s the ideal teammate for LeBron, but Kyrie leaves some big signature shoes to fill.

Losing Irving is a tough blow for the Cavs; he’s a special player. They don’t just make Kyrie Irvings every year. He’s got the the nicest handle in the league and his finishing ability at the rim is unparalleled.

No one besides Kyrie knows what’s going on Kyrie’s head. Flat earth theories notwithstanding, he had a legitimate case for wanting to leave Cleveland. A player of his caliber deserves to be the main star of the show. Outsiders can whine and moan, “He’s been to the Finals three years in a row, what more could he want?” but put yourself in his shoes: no matter what he did in Cleveland, he was always going to be second fiddle to the King.

No strangers to heartbreak, shipping Irving off the the Celtics is whetting the palate for LeBron’s (second) departure after next season. 

The Celtics finished with the best record in the East last year without Kyrie; LeBron’s squad goes to the Finals every year. The parting of the ways was amicable, but the landscape in the East has shifted.