Boston-Cleveland trade affects Raptors dramatically

BOSTON, MA - MAY 17: LeBron James
BOSTON, MA - MAY 17: LeBron James /

The Cavaliers shocked the basketball world by getting huge value from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Kyrie Irving. How does the deal affect the Raptors?

The news that the disgruntled Kyrie Irving wanted to be moved was huge. So what word describes the actual deal? Gi-normous?

The Boston Celtics have acquired the high-scoring guard from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a hefty price. Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s first-round draft pick head to Ohio.

My first reaction to news of the trade was disappointment. The best thing for the Toronto Raptors would have been the dispatch of Irving to the far reaches of the NBA’s Western Conference. Hey, Kyrie, if you don’t like being LeBron James’s sidekick, how do you think you’d enjoy being the biggest name in Sacramento or Portland? Alas, that’s not the case.

TORONTO, ON – MAY 07: Kyrie Irving
TORONTO, ON – MAY 07: Kyrie Irving /

Let’s consider who won the deal. I’ll trot out the lazy cliche “the team that gets the best player wins the deal” and suggest it doesn’t fit here. Irving may be the best player, but Isaiah Thomas isn’t far behind. Jae Crowder is much better than a salary cap throw-in; he’s a highly useful 3-&-D man. Zizic is early in his career, but may have value in time. And the Nets’ pick this coming summer is all but guaranteed to be a juicy one.

The timing of this trade doesn’t help the Raptors either. I wanted the Cavaliers to begin training camp with the testy Irving still on board. I can’t imagine a better way to sabotage a team-bonding experience than having a star who wants out. Again, no joy.

The best return for a star in a long time

I expected the Cavaliers to be hamstrung in their negotiations by the lack of experience of their front office. They cashiered their clever GM, David Griffin, in June, and Koby Altman has sat in the top chair for a mere month.

However, Altman fared better than other GMs who felt compelled to dump their stars this summer. My head is still spinning from the wretched return the Indiana Pacers managed for Paul George. He’s now in OKC, and the Pacers welcomed Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis and two first-rounders…well, none actually.

The Chicago Bulls received a pair of young disappointments (Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn) plus draftee Lauri Markkanen from Minnesota in exchange for Jimmy Butler. Sure, the trade might work out for the Bulls, but clearly the Timberwolves got the best player.

The model was there for Kyrie to be exchanged for futures, because Cleveland was a distressed seller. Instead, the Cavs aren’t really weakened, only changed.

On paper, the Cavaliers and Celtics are now both better than the Raptors. Obviously that’s not where the games are played, but there’s no other conclusion to draw at the moment.

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