Kyrie Irving has become one of the most polarizing NBA players since being drafted by the Cavaliers in 2011. There’s no doubt that he’s a successful player yet has the chance of alienating fan bases with his off-the-court antics. His antics all started when he first requested to be traded out of Cleveland despite seeing success there. His unwillingness to play Robin to LeBron James sparked one of the biggest trades in NBA history. Here’s how both teams make out with the Kyrie Irving to Boston trade.
The Cavaliers did the impossible in the 2015-16 season winning the NBA finals and coming back 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors. Then the NBA landscape did a complete 180 when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors. This Warriors super team was set to rule the NBA for the next couple of years. Irving saw this and believed despite James’ greatness, they would never win a championship again.
On top of that, Irving didn’t like the narrative surrounding his name. He believed he could lead his own team and hated how the media believed James saved him by joining this team. Irving’s disgruntled feelings saw him seek a new team that he could lead. The Celtics seemed perfect as they were an up-and-coming team that had just made the eastern conference finals.
The Celtics received- Kyrie Irving
Boston had a great young core going for them at the moment. In addition to this, they had a surprising All-Star in Isaiah Thomas who was able to lead the team. Irving did become the best player on the team during this period but stunted the development of these young stars.
It’s hard to look at the Celtics now who’re led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and see them play second fiddle to Irving. This team did see playoff success as they made the eastern conference finals and the semifinals in the two years with Irving. It was underwhelming as they had championship hopes with such a star-studded roster.
Another issue for the Celtics is the injury issues on the team. Irving missed some significant time in this stunt. The most notable memory of this is when he needed left knee surgery and missed the playoffs in the 2017-18 season. Their best roster immediately fell apart without Irving leading them. All the injuries in Boston have created one of the biggest “what ifs” in NBA history.
There was no replacing Irving’s production for the Cavaliers. He was one of the premier guards in the NBA at the time and had an amazing impact as the second option. Thomas was believed to be the Irving replacement, yet played 15 games where he put up only 14.7 points and shot 36.1% from the field. He was eventually traded to the Lakers.
The other role players weren’t much better for this team. Crowder was also traded off the team as he couldn’t effectively play with James. Zizic played the backup center role for the Cavaliers and was average at best. James was still able to carry the Cavaliers to the finals without any true help from his new role players.
The only truly notable addition to the Cavaliers from the trade was the first-round pick. This pick ended up becoming Collin Sexton. Sexton has been a decent young role player for the Cavaliers ever since they started rebuilding without James. With no true winner to the trade though each team may have been better off keeping their assets.