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Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin: Kyrie Irving trade won’t be judged historically as good trade for Cleveland

David Griffin

Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin speaks at a news conference before an NBA basketball game between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has previously complimented his successor, Koby Altman, on the return acquired for Kyrie Irving – the Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic.

Griffin, via Sirius XM NBA Radio:

Will it be judged historically as a good trade? No. I mean, it won’t be, because Kyrie’s going to be a special individual player. And the way this works from a social-media standpoint and a media-coverage standpoint, all they’re going to talk about is how good he is. But given the cards Koby Altman was playing at the time, given the circumstances they found themselves in, if you were dealing with the situation where LeBron refused to tell you unequivocally he’s staying in the organization, you don’t know what his long-term future is, you’re trying to win championships while he’s there and simultaneously set yourself up for a future run, I think the deal they put together was really well constructed. And I think it was a very good deal given the cards they were playing at the time. But do I think he’s going to be hailed as having made a great trade deep into the future? Probably not. But if he wins a championship, I know Koby doesn’t care. So, he had a subset of things he had to achieve, and I think if you know what those things are, he probably achieved them.

I understand the distinction Griffin is trying to make – that it could be a good trade for Cleveland, but not judged as one. But I think that shortchanges the judging masses.

Yes, Irving – off to a great start in Boston – will probably be considered the best player in the trade, and that matters a lot. That’s why the Celtics gave up so much for him.

But if Thomas and Crowder help LeBron James and the Cavaliers win another title, that’d cinch the trade as being known as good for Cleveland. Heck, even if Thomas and Crowder help make the Cavs more competitive in the Finals than the team was last year, that will sway opinion in Cleveland’s favor

And then there’s Brooklyn’s pick, which alone could yield a player more valuable than Irving. That’s unlikely, but a high pick in a draft expected to be strong near the top – it’s certainly possible.

Even coming close on both those paths could combine to influence perception of the trade as good for the Cavaliers.

The early returns for Cleveland have been even worse than anticipated. Thomas injury is more serious than most expected at the time the deal was struck, and Crowder needed time to adjust to a new system. The Nets’ pick is out of sight, out of mind for many. Meanwhile, Irving just led Boston on a lengthy winning streak.

But, in time, there are plenty of avenues for the Cavs to have this trade seen as a victory for them.