August typically is the quietest month for NBA news. But Danny Ainge has been known to buck convention.
On Aug. 22, 2017 — exactly one year ago today — Ainge and the Boston Celtics sent shockwaves through the NBA by acquiring All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers in a blockbuster trade that shipped Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland.
The deal seemingly came out of nowhere, as Shams Charania’s first report of a potential trade didn’t surface until hours before the move became official.
Here’s a breakdown of the trade:
Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick
To illustrate just how much has changed over the last 365 days, here’s an update on where each of those players/assets are now:
Irving: The uber-talented guard averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists per game in a successful first season for Boston, but saw his campaign cut short by a knee injury that required two surgeries and caused him to miss 22 regular-season games and the entire postseason.
Irving is expected to be fully healthy for the 2018-19 season, but his Celtics future remains unclear, as he has the option to opt out of the final year of his contract in the summer of 2019.
Thomas: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Thomas returned from offseason hip surgery to make his Cavs debut in January, but appeared in just 15 games before being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA trade deadline. He’s now playing for the Denver Nuggets on a one-year, veteran minimum contract.
Crowder: The veteran swingman also didn’t last the season in Cleveland, getting traded to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline.
Zizic: At least the Cavs kept one player from this trade! The 21-year-old appeared in 32 games for Cleveland last season, averaging 3.7 points per game.
Nets’ first-rounder: This became the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, which the Cavs used to select Alabama guard Collin Sexton.
After trading both Thomas and Crowder and drafting Sexton, Cleveland had essentially flipped Irving for a total of six players, with exactly zero All-Star appearances between them:
Larry Nance Jr.
Unsurprisingly, this haul didn’t convince LeBron James to stick around, as the superstar bolted to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. The Celtics, meanwhile, should be a legitimate title contender led by a healthy Irving and Gordon Hayward and young studs Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Yes, the Kyrie-less Cavs edged the C’s in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals. But if we’re talking winners and losers at the one-year mark, Boston has the clear advantage.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images