Everything surrounding Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is up in flames. His team has a minimal shot at winning the 2018 NBA Finals and has its second best player, superstar guard Kyrie Irving, asking for a trade.
Here is the proposed JR Report trade that would send Irving from Cleveland to the Celtics.
Cleveland receives: Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Ante Zizic
Boston receives: Kyrie Irving
Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY SportsThe only issue, that could arise between the two teams, is getting the salaries to match to make the trade acceptable. Thanks to ESPN’s trade machine, we made sure this trade would be allowed by the NBA.
To balance out Irving’s $18 million salary, Ante Zizic and Terry Rozier were added to the trade.
Why the trade is a win for Boston
Boston may have given up a lot of assets in this trade, including Morris and Zizic, but it solidifies a major need moving forward, having a truly transcendent superstar.
Isaiah Thomas is an exciting and great player, but there are limitations to his game. He is the No. 464 best player in the NBA when it comes to defensive box plus/minus, per Basketball Reference.
In comparison, Irving ranks No. 420, which isn’t much better, but we know Irving has the potential to pick up his defense in times of need.
Just think, the Golden State Warriors will be the team to beat for at least the next five seasons. Would one rather Irving guarding Warriors guard Stephen Curry or the 5-foot-9 Thomas?
As great as Thomas’s stats are, he is going to struggle down the stretch of games to defend and get his shot off over taller players. If Klay Thompson is guarding Thomas late in games, it will be tough for Thomas. However, we have seen what Irving can do to Thompson.
In this proposed scenario, Boston would finally have their superstar player that they can build around for a decade. It is not to say that Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Thomas aren’t good players, but they aren’t transcendent. A title will not be won if any of those guys are the best player on the team.
If Irving is there with Hayward and Horford, along with Jason Tatum and the other young pieces, then there is a realistic shot of winning.
The Celtics will improve their chances to win the Eastern Conference and would be one smart move away from being able to contend with the Warriors in a seven game series.
Why the trade is a win for Cleveland
At this point, Irving is out of Cleveland and James will probably be wearing a different uniform after the 2017 season.
As a result, the Cavaliers need to start building for the future, something they never did while James held the franchise hostage. Cleveland won’t get anything for LeBron if he chooses to leave, so they should at least get something for Irving if the opportunity presents itself.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert might not feel the greatest giving a superstar player away to Cleveland’s biggest rival, the Celtics, but it is not a time to be stubborn. Boston can provide the best assets in return for Irving giving Cleveland the ability to build for the future but also help James win now.
Gilbert shouldn’t pull a move like the Indiana Pacers by trading away a superstar for nothing out of spite. It might have made Pacers owner Herbert Simon feel better the day of the trade, but it won’t make him feel any better in the future as his team will be battling for the No. 1 overall pick for the next five years.
Cleveland, in this deal, would be getting Thomas in return. He is a slight downgrade from Irving, but should do well in combination with James.
The Cavaliers will also get Morris, who can come off the bench and be a great role player. The combination of Morris and Thomas might be better off than Irving in Cleveland. Also, there would be no issues with team chemistry as Irving would be on his way out.
Zizic is a massive seven footer who has potential to become a superstar in the league. Obviously, there is a long way to go, lowering his value, but he is still an important asset for the future and would be a piece Danny Ainge would be hesitant to give away.
Therefore, Cleveland would have Thomas and Morris to help now and will have Zizic in the future if it does become a total rebuild after a possible James departure.
Boston could also throw in a first round pick, but it is doubtful Irving’s trade value will be extremely high since the Cavaliers do not have a ton of leverage considering Irving could just leave the team in two years, much like the Paul George situation.
If the first round pick is the difference, it would make sense for Boston to part ways with it instead of waiting another four years for a draft pick to turn out. Better to get a sure-fire superstar than having the possibility of getting one four years down the line.
Get it done
The deal is a win-win for everyone. Thomas leaves Boston, but gets to play with the greatest player on the planet. Irving gets to be the man on the team while still being able to contend for a title.
Boston gets their superstar player and Cleveland can build for the future and add a little more talent around James for now.
The two teams should get this deal done immediately. It is a true win-win.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.