Blakely: Celtics including more in trade for Kyrie might be quickest solution

Blakely: Celtics including more in trade for Kyrie might be quickest solution

 The Celtics knew from the very outset that acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland was going to be costly.
They agreed to trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Irving.
And the Cavs knew that regardless of seemingly being under the gun to move Irving following his request for a trade earlier this summer, they had to get a good haul in return.
They got a deal done, but that’s in limbo after Thomas’ physical with Cleveland on Friday. It raises what one league source tells CSNNE.com are “definite concerns” about Thomas' hip injury, which may not heal as quickly as they thought with surgery now becoming a very real possibility.
Both sides have reportedly resumed talks on how to move past this latest development with Thomas, knowing the fallout from this deal not getting done will be significant for both teams.

For Boston, it means they will have their core group back from last season’s team that Danny Ainge, because of this trade, was clearly wanting to move on from.

How's that going to play out in the locker room?
And Cleveland may have to look for another deal involving Irving, knowing they won’t get anything close to the combination of players (Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic) and picks (Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 pick which will likely be a top five selection) that Boston had agreed to.

The idea of bringing Irving back is just as unappealing to Cleveland.
Still, Cleveland rookie GM Koby Altman wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t try and squeeze the Celtics for additional compensation based on Thomas’ health.
Players returning to the teams that tried to trade them would be an awkward start to the season with training camp less than a month away.

That’s why the idea of Boston including more assets in this deal, while certainly unappealing to the Celtics - who think they gave up significant assets already - might be the quickest way to get this deal done.

Contacted by CSNNE.com on Saturday, two league officials, who have been in contact with the Cavs regarding Irving since his trade request in July, still believe the trade with Boston will eventually get worked out.
“The only way the Cavs back out of this is if they saw something in his physical with them that gave them a reason to think that this could be a long-term, lingering-type injury even with surgery,” one source said.
The other source added, “Whatever the medical report says, the Cavs have to remember who they are dealing for, a guy who is as tough a player as you’ll find in this league, a guy who stepped his game up in the playoffs while dealing with a heavy heart following his sister’s death. It’s a cliché, but you really can’t measure how much heart this guy plays with. If you’re going to trade Kyrie, you trade him for a guy with Isaiah’s talent, a guy who has played through tremendous pain, physical and emotional, and stood out. I just think both teams are too far down this road together, to kill the deal. Walking away from it is a lose-lose for both teams.”
And, in all likelihood, if the Celtics decide to include another draft pick as additional compensation, it’s unlikely to be the protected first-round pick they'll receive next year from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Instead, it would likely be a second-rounder, which is what the Celtics received a few years ago when they were in Cleveland’s shoes following a trade for Jeff Green in 2012 from Oklahoma City.
After acquiring Green in February of 2011, he underwent season-ending heart surgery in December of 2012.
Boston put together a case that the Celtics were deserving of additional compensation due to information relative to Green that wasn’t made available to them at the time of the trade.
Then-NBA commissioner David Stern agreed, ordering the Thunder to send Boston a 2013 second-round pick.
The pick became part of the sign-and-trade deal Boston engineered with Houston for Courtney Lee in 2012.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.


 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
And even that might not be enough.
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
“Here in this league,” he said, “you have to love challenges.”