Blockbuster official: Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more

Blockbuster official: Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland's All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round draft pick.

"It's extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that's done what he's done, the offensive weapon that he is," Celtics president Danny Ainge said. "We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

"We have a player that's proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber."

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship - and the city's first title since 1964 - is on his way to Boston, where he'll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season's conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

"Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year," Ainge said. "But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that's why we did it."

The blockbuster deal caps a wild summer for the Cavs, who lost their title defense in five games to Golden State in June. Since then, general manager David Griffin left, the team failed to convince Chauncey Billups to join its front office and James has played with fans' emotions with veiled postings on social media about his future.

Irving's trade demand cast a shadow over the entire organization.

But Cleveland may have salvaged its offseason with this trade.

In Thomas, they're getting a proven playmaker with a stellar reputation. The 5-foot-9 guard is one of the league's most dynamic backcourt players with an uncanny ability to get to the basket. Irving may be the only better finisher among point guards.

The 28-year-old Thomas was taken with the final selection in the 2011 draft - 59 picks after Irving was picked first overall. But he has steadily scaled his way up to elite status.

Thomas' reputation in Boston was cemented when he led the Celtics through the playoffs last season despite the death of his sister on the eve of the postseason. He also had a front tooth knocked out during the second-round series against Washington and a hip injury eventually forced the team to shut him down early in the East finals, won by the Cavaliers in five games.

"Isaiah had just an amazing season this year and entertained us all, the whole city of Boston. And everybody fell in love with him," Ainge said. "He's such an underdog because of his size and his heart and his spirit which he plays."

Thomas is eligible for free agency next summer and believes he is worthy of a maximum contract. He has been quoted saying, "They better bring out the Brinks truck."

Cleveland also is getting Crowder, a solid perimeter defender, and a first-round pick that Boston got from Brooklyn. The package could help the Cavs reload if James opts out of his contract next summer and leaves Cleveland for a second time.

The Cavs drafted Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. He struggled in his first few seasons but blossomed in recent years alongside James. However, that didn't seem to be enough for the 25-year-old, who has wanted to be the focal point on his own team.

Asked about trading a fan favorite who rose from the depths of the draft for a player who asked out of a team with the NBA's best player, one year removed from a championship, Ainge said he has done his homework.

"We feel comfortable with who Kyrie is and who he can be," he said.

Minnesota showed some interest in Irving after his trade request became public, but were unwilling to part with young star Andrew Wiggins as the centerpiece of a deal. Wiggins is expected to sign a max contract extension in the coming weeks to stay with the Timberwolves.

The Phoenix Suns reportedly were not interested in parting with rookie Josh Jackson in a deal that also would have required Eric Bledsoe and the New York Knicks gave no indication that Kristaps Porzingis was ever on the table in a potential Irving trade.

Then the Celtics swooped in, landing the kind of star Ainge has long coveted. With the possibility of having to break the bank to retain Thomas next summer, Boston finally tapped into the treasure trove of assets that Ainge has assembled to get Irving, who is under contract for two more years.

Irving got his wish to get away from James, but he's not free of him yet.

It's official -- Steph Curry will return vs Hawks, Dennis Schroder awaits him


It's official -- Steph Curry will return vs Hawks, Dennis Schroder awaits him

OAKLAND -- At a time when the Warriors could use a boost, they’ll get Friday night when Stephen Curry rejoins the lineup as they face the Atlanta Hawks.

The Warriors (53-18) have been shorthanded for two weeks, and still they’ll be without three of their four All-Stars. Curry’s return after a six-game absence, however, will send a jolt of energy through the team and the crowd at Oracle Arena.

The Hawks (21-51), in full rebuild mode, have lost 10 of 13 since the All-Star break, including a 105-90 loss to the Kings on Thursday night in Sacramento before the lightest NBA crowd of the season due to protests in the wake of a police shooting.


Warriors by 9


Stephen Curry vs. Dennis Schroder: Under normal circumstances, this is worthy of attention, but it’s particularly intriguing with Curry making his return. Schroder, who rested Thursday night, is a defensive pest, the type of player whose presence lights a fire under opponents. Not that Curry needs it. He’s downright anxious to get back on the court.


Warriors: F Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain) is listed as questionable. F Kevin Durant (R rib cartilage injury), F Draymond Green (pelvic contusion) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Hawks: G Kent Bazemore (R knee bone bruise), F De’Andre Bembry (abdominal strain), G Antonious Cleveland (L ankle surgery rehab), F/C John Collins (L ankle sprain), G Malcolm Delaney (L ankle sprain) and G Jaylen Morris (L ankle sprain) are listed as out.


Warriors: 6-4. Hawks: 2-8.


Sean Wright (crew chief), Kevin Cutler, Rodney Mott


The Warriors prevailed in the first of two meetings this season, 114-109 on March 2 in Atlanta. They swept the two-game series last season and are 6-1 against the Hawks in the Steve Kerr era.


DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: Green’s absence robs the Warriors of their best defender and emotional leader. How do they compensate? That’s going to be tough. Expect Jordan Bell (who will start) and Kevon Looney to handle most of the minutes at PF. They’re capable and willing defenders, but neither has Green’s savvy.

THE GIFTS: Though the Warriors, even without a full roster, are much the better team, those circumstances have guaranteed nothing this season. They have a tendency to keep games close by committing costly turnovers. The Hawks are second in forcing turnovers (15.5 per game) and third in points off turnovers (18.2).

THE GUARDS: Curry’s return gives the Warriors a fourth guard, with three PGs (Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston, Curry) and SG Nick Young. Because Curry and Quinn Cook are capable of playing off the ball, there will be several variations. Any two can be paired as a duo. The coaching staff gets to satisfy its desire to experiment.

Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'


Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'

So here's a story for you:

At 9:25pm on April 16, 2017, The Vertical's Shams Charania sent out the following tweet:

This angered Jordan Bell, who soon thereafter tweeted twice:

So what actually went down? It turns out that former agent Christian Dawkins -- who is a key figure in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball -- may have been responsible.

Bell explained everything to Logan Murdock on the Planet Dubs Podcast.

"I was mad ... I know exactly what happened. One of the agents I met with -- the one who got in trouble. What's his name? Dawkins or whatever. Something like that. When I met with him, he was throwing me shade -- he acted like he didn't know who I was. 

"We had dinner and he's on his phone like not really paying me attention. I'm like, 'Why am I meeting with you?  You're wasting my time.' ... I kid you not, he didn't read over his (research). It had all of the top power forwards, big guys in the draft. And he was like, 'Let's just look at this.'

"And he's looking at it, and he was like, 'Oh! You're Top 3 in everything!' And he started getting excited and I was like, 'I'm cool. I'm done with this meeting.'"

Bell then explained how one of his coaches at Oregon tried to teach Bell a lesson.

The coach wanted Bell to "be a man" and contact all of the agents that he was for sure not going to sign with to let them know.

Bell didn't want to do that because he wanted to announce he was declaring for the draft on his own terms, without any information potentially leaking to the media.

But the Warriors rookie took the coach's advice and texted Dawkins to say he was going in a different direction.

"And I kid you not, like an hour later, I get an (alert) -- I'm upstairs at my coach's house -- 'I hear Jordan Bell declares for (the draft)' and I just started screaming...

"... I feel like I have to go (to the NBA) now ... when that happened, I was like, 'I really want to go back now just to prove him wrong, just to make him lose all credibility."

Bell quickly came to his senses, and at 10am on April 18, 2017, he retweeted the following message:

Interestingly -- the last line of The Vertical's story that broke the news regarding Bell reads:

Bell is projected to be the No. 38 overall pick in The Vertical’s latest mock draft by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

The Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to Bell at... No. 38 overall.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller