Among the list of teams that have the pieces to offer Cleveland everything they are asking for in a Kyrie Irving trade, the Boston Celtics might be at the top of the list. They can send back a quality point guard in Isaiah Thomas, they have a number of rotation players who can help now, they have the Brooklyn pick next year or the Lakers’ pick (protected), and they have young stars such as Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum who could be thrown in a deal.
The question is, would the two top teams in the East want to do business with each other, potentially helping the other out? Can you see Dan Gilbert helping the Celtics? Danny Ainge helping the Cavaliers?
The two sides are at least talking seriously, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The latest buzz from reports and sources is the deal is Thomas, Crowder, and the Brooklyn unprotected pick for Irving.
I get why Boston would want Irving over Thomas — he’s younger, taller, and has a couple of years left on his current contract. Plus, if Boston is going all in for a ring Irving is a fit — the guy knows how to win. I get why Cleveland would want Thomas back in an Irving trade, it puts a scoring point guard next to LeBron James and keeps them as the team to beat in the East next season.
The unprotected first-round Brooklyn pick is a big chip. Boston could offer the Lakers’ pick (protected by the Sixers), depending on who else is involved.
But it would be a mistake for Boston to give up Jae Crowder in the deal — they need his wing defense against Cleveland and, theoretically, Golden State. Crowder would make Cleveland much better. Plus Crowder is on a good contract. Boston would prefer to send Thomas, Ante Zizic, whichever pick, and some players to round out the deal. That may not be enough for Cleveland.
If this deal happens as Wojnarowski reports it, to my eye, Boston would be getting somewhat better production next season from Irving that they would Thomas, but they are giving up a lot of other assets for that limited improvement. Is it really worth it?
Danny Ainge has a long history of getting serious in talks, asking for a lot, then deciding it wasn’t enough and pulling back.
That said, the pieces can be made to work. But do these teams want to deal with one another? Maybe so.