There is a very good chance that the Cleveland Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference again next season. Propelled by a trio of Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James, and Kevin Love, Cleveland might still be the best team in the east, mostly because they still have James and he is still the best basketball player in the world. They will probably go on to play the Golden State Warriors, they will probably lose, and the Boston Celtics will watch it all go down, just as they did last year.
It’s important to say all of that as a way to set up this phrase: The Celtics did the right thing by trading Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft for Kyrie Irving, even if the deal does not lead to an NBA title (or, for that matter, an Eastern Conference championship) next season.
Seriously, it’s ok. Boston still had to make this move. What the Celtics did on Tuesday night was go out and obtain a potential franchise cornerstone for an undersized point guard with a bum hip, a 3-and-D wing who would have taken time away from their other young and talented wing players, a rookie big man, and a draft pick that, in fairness, could land Cleveland a potential superstar in Michael Porter or Marvin Bagley.
You can obviously look at this differently — Thomas bled green in a way that no player has since Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, Crowder is the team’s designated LeBron Stopper™ (to whatever extent he can accomplish this), Zizic has some hype around him as he’s coming stateside, and Porter/Bagley both rule. This is 100 percent fair and accurate.