The Celtics and Cavaliers Drama Continues

In a deal that seemed all but sealed last week, there are some complications

About a week ago I went scorched Earth on Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics on a little podcast known as Ballin’ Without Borders with Allana Tachauer. The Boston Celtics seemingly gave up too much to remortgage their present and future on Kyrie Irving, but not really move the needle in a particular direction while strengthening their primary rival in the conference. Here we are, a week later, and I have to ask, is it possible to lose a trade twice? Because Danny Ainge is about to if this falls through.

To recap, the Boston Celtics gave up Isaiah Thomas (comma), Jae Crowder (comma), Ante Zizic (AND!) and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 unprotected first round pick (full stop, finally). If you read that list again and have an overwhelming feeling that there should have been a cut-off at least about half-way through, you are not alone. For all the megalomaniac stashing of his assets, Danny Ainge managed to get fleeced in a deal, paying about twice the price that was reasonable, which is roughly equivalent for what Barcelona had to shell out for Ousmane Dembele earlier this week.

Back then, I speculated that the only way this would work in Celtics favor is if there were issues with Isaiah Thomas’ hip that we didn’t realize, and based of a lot of recent reports, there are. Some of the reports indicate that despite Boston’s team’s assurances of IT2’s quick return he may in fact require a surgery, which will sideline him for close to 6–9 months, something that could have been done earlier in the year to curb the wait time during actual season. How could this happen? I have two opinions, one: the Celtics did in fact know this and wanted to keep it under wraps until trading Thomas. Two: their medical team is actually led by this guy.

Regardless, the notion is that the trade may be void unless Boston are willing to add someone like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum to the pot. That’s who the Cavs are considering and despite what Boston fans say, they may not be bluffing. Danny Ainge, the world’s most incompetent hoarder has painted himself into a corner with this one.

Option 1: Add to the Trade

The original deal was already a steal for Cleveland. They walked into any and all trade discussions for Kyrie with minimal leverage since everyone and their grandmother knew Kyrie wanted to leave and they needed to get something for him, which isn’t an unusual position for them. When trying to orchestrate LeBron’s return, the management loudly announced that they’d be willing to trade Andrew Wiggins, their most valuable asset, which made them holding Wiggins out of any trade impossible. When you say you’re willing to trade someone to make it happen, you don’t reserve the right to act surprised when they ask you for that someone.

Boston didn’t only give the Cavs a like for like replacement when it comes to statistical impact, they sweetened the pot with a 3 and D player on a phenomenal contract, a young prospect (who even if he doesn’t pan out is just a throw in) and one of the most coveted Draft picks in the NBA over the past three years. They traded an older quarter and a dollar for a new, shinier, slightly more currently minted quarter.

Adding anything else to this deal would further skew the massive trove of assets they tossed Cleveland’s way. I realize that Danny Ainge doesn’t view Isaiah Thomas, a player coming off his best professional season, as any kind of asset, but Danny Ainge also equated the Brooklyn pick to a discount brand non-lottery type of pick by throwing it into this trade. Adding Tatum or Brown would be catastrophic. It would decimate an already questionable situation at the 3/4 for Celtics and would arm Cleveland to not only take them on this year (which they will) but also out-build them for the future. All out of a position of weakness.

Option 2: Reneg The Trade

Let me present you with two images. One is the farewell Kyrie Irving received in Cleveland:

The other is Boston fans reacting to their team trading their best player who, if I may mention, played a Playoff game for their franchise a mere day after losing his sister in a car accident:

First of all, before we proceed: fuck Boston.

On top of the jersey burning, presumably by people who don’t understand how commerce works, but think they do because they watched the trailer for Wolf of Wall Street, the Celtics management didn’t do themselves any favors. Shortly after the trade, and the subsequent reactions, the rumor started to emerge out of the front office that Isaiah wasn’t well liked, rumors that quickly got squashed by the Celtics players. In the age of the internet, you can talk shit about your ex all you want, but your ex will find out and in that case you better hope she doesn’t have the receipts.

Would you want to go back into the situation where both the city and the management tried to throw you under a bus and discarded you for basically nothing (given how many other variables there were in this trade)? Cleveland tried to trade Kyrie, they bid him a pleasant adieu and did everything to work an amicable solution. Kyrie could be okay with running this back one more time. Boston burned every bridge they could, alienating their best player from last season who may not even be gone. Sure, the fans themselves weren’t as much of a problem. The city that produced such spitting hot takes such as “In Defense of a White Male” can’t be counted for much. It’s the management that should be worried, showing a distinct lack of loyalty even for a business where loyalty isn’t to be expected when it comes to the transfer market. Shit, even if I’m one of the players not traded I don’t know if I want to play for this organization anymore (I do, they pay well, but my heart wouldn’t be in it).

Now, what if *puts on tinfoil hat* this was Cleveland’s plan all along?

Option 3: Call Cavs Bluff

Here’s the thing though, I don’t think the Cavs are bluffing. Sometimes you raise because you have a Royal Flush and you know your opponent has trips at best. Sometimes that’s just the way life works. Cleveland has very little to lose in terms of both public perception and Kyrie’s return screwing up the chemistry significantly. Their worst case scenario is ending up right where they were about a week ago.

The Celtics on the other hand would have to either give up another asset or bring back a disgruntled point guard on the last year of his contract who wants to get paid. Does that mean he forgoes his play-making duties and goes full Westbrook stat hunting? Or maybe they’re forced to shut him down due to injury and have no one capable of plugging that hole? What role does Jae Crowder play in all this and how happy is he that his team used him as a trade chip? When will be the first public profile internal fight? There are a lot of questions if they return.

The trade itself was asinine, but through not accurately assessing IT’s health (or covertly trying to cover it up, doesn’t matter) the Celtics haven’t only painted themselves into a corner, they decided to take a shovel and dig about 10 feet deeper.

Man, I’d love to play poker against Danny Ainge.

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