The Cleveland Cavaliers got a look at Isaiah Thomas‘ hip injury and balked.
Thomas was headed to Cleveland in a blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston and brought Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and most importantly Brooklyn’s unprotected pick in the 2018 draft to Cleveland. Most people, myself included, thought this was a great deal for the Cavaliers, more than they should have expected to get when they had no leverage (everyone knew Irving had asked for a trade). But after looking at Thomas’ hip and realizing he could miss part of the season, the Cavaliers thought it was not enough and would ask for more compensation to finalize the trade, most likely another draft pick (a second rounder, perhaps).
Boston doesn’t sound like it is going to throw anything else in the deal, according to multiple reports.
If Boston plays hardball, it puts Cleveland in a tough spot.
Their options would be to accept the trade as is, or by Wednesday night void the deal saying Thomas did not pass his physical. The problem for Cleveland is what it prizes most in this trade is not the All-NBA play of Thomas, it is that Brooklyn pick, which gives it flexibility to help keep LeBron James next summer or jumpstart the rebuild if he decides to leave. Also, Thomas and the versatile defense of Crowder keep the Cavaliers as the team to beat in the East. Void the trade and they have to return to square one and look for other options to trade Irving, and there was no deal near this good.
However, accepting the deal as is at this point means they lose a little face.
Cleveland has to decide how badly it wants and needs to trade Irving. There is not a better deal sitting there right now, and injured or not they may have to take it, or live with the idea of bringing Irving into camp after he said he doesn’t want to play with LeBron.