Most fans marveled at new Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman for making such a gutsy move and doing more than just a point guard swap with the Boston Celtics to unload estranged All-Star Kyrie Irving barely a month after being named to his position, there was more than meets the eye.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, it was in fact owner Dan Gilbert who was pulling the strings on the blockbuster deal that landed Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, an unprotected 2018 first-round pick, and ultimately a 2020 second-round pick.
The controversial Cavs owner not only traced and chased the deal, but also was the mastermind milking the deal even more, getting yet another future asset out of the deal before the deadline to completion was shut.
“A state of organizational chaos is Gilbert’s M.O.,” a league executive told O’Connor. “Gilbert thinks he’s the protagonist in the story of the Cavaliers, when, in reality, he’s the antagonist.”
Gilbert’s fingerprints were all over the drama that’s unfolded over the past week. Thomas’s health is what held up the deal, but according to multiple league sources with knowledge of Cleveland’s thought process, the unprotected Nets pick and Crowder were the pieces that Cleveland valued the most—those were the assets that got the deal done, not Thomas. The perception of the trade was that the Cavaliers and Celtics swapped franchise point guards, but for the Cleveland front office (and its owner), Thomas was the icing, not the cake.
Owen Crisafulli ·
As other sources had previously reported, the Celtics had given Crowder, Zizic, and a prized pick in addition to Thomas, knowing full well he was damaged goods and that history wasn’t in his favor with that type of injury.
Gilbert dragged out the process, knowing he had a small window to get Boston to sweeten the deal even more, while in reality the asking price for Irving wasn’t another star point guard, but future pieces to possibly keep the team afloat after a potential second LeBron James departure.