After Thomas’ physical caused concern in Cleveland, Boston – rather than seeing the deal voided – improved its offer.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
The Heat’s 2020 second-rounder seems minor after five days of delay on this landscape-altering trade, but it allows the Cavs to save face after causing such a stink. To be fair, the pick also gives the Cavaliers a little more value after accepting great-than-expected injury risk with Thomas.
Not that they needed extra value.
This was already a haul for Cleveland – the type of deal that immediately instills faith in new general manager Koby Altman and turns the tide toward LeBron James re-signing next summer (though not necessarily far enough). Thomas is arguably (I’d say, nearly) as good as Irving right now, and Thomas’ expiring contract allows the Cavs to walk away if injuries catch up to him. Crowder is the type of 3-and-D wing Cleveland badly needed to matchup with the Warriors. Plus, he’s on a very team-friendly contract for three more years. Zizic, a rookie, is a decent long-term prospect. Most of all, that Brooklyn pick might land another franchise player – or could be flipped for help while LeBron still has Cleveland’s championship window propped open.
Boston gets one of the youngest stars ever to change teams, surely a motivator as the Cavaliers played hardball. The Celtics clearly covet Irving.
Now, finally, they have him.
But with these teams poised to compete for Eastern Conference supremacy this season – and for years to come if LeBron stays in Cleveland – the fun is just beginning.