Over this past weekend reports started to sprout up that the Cleveland Cavaliers had some very valid concerns about the condition of Isaiah Thomas’ hip that caused him to sit out the last three games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the very team that just traded for him. As a result of this news immediately spread that the Cavs would want to take on additional assets as opposed to vetoing the trade (because they REALLY want that Brooklyn pick).
Taking on an injured player in a trade is always a tricky proposition but when said player is essetually the centerpiece of your haul the cause for concern heightens exponentially. And despite how I feel about this trade I support the league’s efforts to allow teams to do their due diligence in hopes of affording them the opportunity to protect their best interests. So with all of this considered I’ve come to this conclusion, Boston bet not (yes, bet not) include anyone else in this trade.
Okay, let’s take a look at where we stand here by taking a gander at the trade as it stands now. Boston received Kyrie Irving while Cleveland received Thomas along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Boston’s 2018 1st round pick via Brooklyn. Quite the bounty for the Cavs right? I know! And don’t get me wrong, I am not at all of the thinking that the Cavs stop being aggressive here (you enjoy the upper hand until you no longer have it right?) and there is something to be said about renegotiating after certain expectations were left unmet.
However, given what they have already parted with in the trade (to their biggest rival no less) along with the attrition they experienced to their roster as a whole over the summer if Boston wants to position themselves to challenge the Cavs for the East (and I assume they do) they can’t afford to send out any more bodies. Especially the ones Cleveland seems to be most fond of.
Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum are rumored to be the primary targets that would be added to the trade package. Jaylen Brown after a pretty inconsistent rookie regular season really turned it on in the playoffs and strated to make good on the promise of the smart, super athletic wing with two way potential that wowed everyone during the draft process last summer. Jayson Tatum steadily rose up the draft boards and proved intriguing enough to factor into the Celtics trading the top spot in order for take him. With the addition of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie if this goes through Boston will not have much trouble putting the ball in the hoop. But considering the defensive firepower they lost this summer they’ll need all the scorers they can get and Tatum was arguably the best natural scorer in the draft. So we can clearly see why these two young players would cause a bit of a stalemate here.
My largest issue here is that this is a trade that already makes Cleveland better (and thus harder to beat) in the short-term. Yielding either Brown or Tatum addition to the Brooklyn pick they already possess makes them better in the long-term (thus taking a lot of bite out of the solid moves by the Celtics). I’ve mainly held the position that the ultimate winner and loser in this trade lies in the minutiae outside of the pair of superstar guards involved. I suppose this is why I think Cleveland has already clearly held the upper hand in this exchange.
Then there’s the messy human element of this trade getting vetoed and everyone going back to where they came from. This is not what anyone wants (especially Boston). But if there’s a silver lining here I would say that fielding the plethora of calls on both sides will provide some flexibility as to what to do with your pretty pissed off returning stars. It may not represent the return you want (especially for Cleveland) but a strength of all great organizations in this league is the ability to stay flexible and open minded in the face of adversity.
In close, I’m talking to you Boston. I know y’all are already sorta bristling over how this trade is perceived already. Please don’t add any fuel to the fire. Don’t make the mountain that you’ve continuously failed to climb an even more arduous task.