Both the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to benefit from the Kyrie Irving trade, but the blockbuster deal has become awfully one-sided.
The Celtics acquired Irving in late August after the star point guard requested a trade from the Cavaliers. The acquisition of Irving certainly didn’t come cheap for Boston, as it forked over Isaiah Thomas and the highly coveted Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round pick, among other assets.
While replacing Irving was going to be impossible for Cleveland, the team still was viewed as the favorite in the Eastern Conference. After all, the Cavs still have LeBron James, who has led the team to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
But life after Irving hardly has been a breeze for the Cavaliers, especially of late. They’ve lost nine of their last 12 games, and several players reportedly are concerned that the team’s issues might not be fixable. It’s hard to imagine Cleveland’s struggles would be as severe if Irving still was in the fold, and this line of thought reportedly has crept into the minds of members of the organization.
“There was excitement in Cleveland for the pieces the Cavs got in the Irving trade,” ESPN Brian Windhorst reported in a story published Tuesday. “But as the season has unfolded, second-guessing has been developing. James himself was publicly supportive, but it is no secret within the organization that he was against trading Irving after the demand (and well before the now-famous Arthur tweet). It’s fair to wonder what might’ve happened had the Cavs simply told Irving, who was under contract for two more years, they weren’t trading him, as the (San Antonio) Spurs held the line with (LaMarcus) Aldridge.”
As Windhorst notes, the Spurs stood pat after Aldridge requested a trade, and the big man has been sensational this season. On a grander scale, Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers in the mid-2000s, but the future Hall of Famer wound up staying with the Purple and Gold and won multiple championships. With these examples and others in mind, it’s no surprise the Cavs have become overwhelmed with “what ifs.”