Anybody who was crapping on Kyrie Irving for wanting out of Cleveland can give up now. They no longer have an argument.
LeBron stuff aside, the holdup in the Cavs and Celtics trade shows what kind of a mess of an operation they’ve got going on in Cleveland. After the Cavaliers traded Irving for a package that included Isaiah Thomas’ well-documented hip issue, there’s a possibility -- however small, but certainly real -- that the Cavs will call off the trade if Boston doesn’t throw in more.
MORE ON THE TRADE:
This comes, you know, after both teams agreed to the trade and announced it. As these things always are, the deal was pending physicals, but part of trading for Thomas is knowing that his 2016-17 season was ended three games early by a hip issue from which he hasn’t fully recovered.
This isn’t to say the Cavs should have taken him no matter what, but his health had to have been discussed in trade negotiations. And really, what’s more likely?
A. That Danny Ainge, a day after his coach said the team hadn’t yet cleared the player and an hour before he said Thomas’ hip played in his motivation to trade the player, told the Cavs that Thomas was fine.
B. That the Cavaliers traded for a package that included an injured player and then acted surprised when that injured player was, in fact, injured.
Given what a mess the organization has been this summer, from the general manager getting dumped to Chauncey Billups staying far away to the whispers-turned-screams that LeBron will bounce next summer, I’m going with B.
The thing that stinks for the Celtics is that they probably have to acquiesce to Cleveland’s demands, as this trade falling through would be far more difficult for Boston than for the Cavs. If the teams back out of the deal, all Cleveland has is a star player in Irving who wants out, which is exactly what they had before.
But the Celtics? They’ll have told their best player ahead of his walk year that they preferred someone else at his position while also attempting to trade another long-time member of the team right after their mother’s death. It’s in Ainge’s best interests to get this thing done.
Of course, that might prove to be harder than expected because of his trade partner. Whatever the additional asset is, it should be minimal — a lottery-protected pick or something like that. Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown? Get the hell out of here.
The Celtics gave up a lot to get a hell of a player. They thought they had him. They probably also thought they were dealing with a competent organization on the other side. They would be wrong.