Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving were swapped for one another earlier this last week. That’s how we stood until the Cavaliers had a look at Thomas’ hip, after which the Cavs decided to give ol’ Danny Ainge a ring.
The Cavaliers are not completely confident about Thomas’ hip, and reportedly want to come back for more in compensation for Irving. Meanwhile, the Celtics believe that they gave up so much for Irving in the first place — including Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets first rounder in 2018 — primarily because of some doubt with Thomas’ health.
So we are at an impasse, and the Celtics are reportedly unwilling to move off of their agreed-upon offer for Irving.
Meanwhile, it appears that the Cavaliers will come back and ask for specific players on the Boston roster. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Cleveland will ask for either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum.
Here is what Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter, via NESN:
“Now, Cleveland is going to try to inquire about a couple of the Celtics’ young players, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, who they tried to get in the original trade, that is very unlikely. But Boston still has a war chest of future first-round picks of their own, and some picks they control from other teams, and Cleveland is going to try to get one more of those to finalize this deal.”
“Boston is resisting, and will initially at least, resist this idea. Boston believes that it was completely transparent with Cleveland about where Thomas was physically, his rehab. Cleveland’s version of this is that they didn’t realize how long Thomas could potentially be out this season, he’s in the final year of his contract, and obviously, that matches up with what will likely be the final year of LeBron’s current deal, and so there’s going to be a showdown between these two teams that may last a couple more days.”
Unless Thomas’ hip is completely shot and he’s a non-factor in this trade, there isn’t really any reason for the Celtics to send their young core with their current package to Cleveland. People already felt they sacrificed some of their depth by sending Crowder in this deal, forcing them to rely on said young players to develop quickly in order to make sure they have enough rotation to get through the playoffs.
As Wojnarowski points out, this is likely a negotiating tactic on both sides. We will just have to wait to see who budges first, and who sticks to their guns. Given past history and the apparent leverage within the situation, it feels like Boston will be able to just wait this one out.