What initially looked as a straight-up point guard swap in a trade with the Boston Celtics, actually ended up turning into much more than meets the eye. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded star point guard Kyrie Irving for a package that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, an unprotected first-round pick and ultimately added a 2020 second-round pick to account for Thomas’ health issues.
According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, the Cavs were never honing into Thomas as the centerpiece of the deal, but rather the parts around him due to the uncertainty that LeBron James would stick around after this upcoming season.
Thomas was never the focal point of these negotiations from the Cavs’ perspective, one source with knowledge of the talks told The Athletic. From the start, the Cavs made clear to the Celtics that James’ uncertain status beyond this season left them prioritizing restocking the cupboards in the event he leaves again. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert remains fixated on James’ future, one source told The Athletic. Had he gotten James to commit beyond this season, this Irving trade might have looked drastically different.
Bill Simmons of The Ringer also pointed out that the core of the deal was getting that Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected first-round selection and a three-and-D guy like Crowder that can serve multiple uses, while the acquisition of Thomas was rather just “the icing on the cake.”
Paul Tamayo ·
Dan Gilbert very much had his fingerprints all over this deal, from the pieces involved to the consequent drama over Thomas’ health bill after further examination — milking this deal as dry as it could get and netting a future second-rounder to stash.
The Cavs’ front office mindset was very much a long-term one, and is Thomas ends up defeating the odds of a hip injury — Cleveland could be set up for a good core, even without James.