No individual thing looms larger as the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves down 2-0 to the Boston Celtics than the Kyrie Irving trade. While Irving is celebrating on the sidelines with his teammates during the Eastern Conference Finals tilt, the Cavaliers look like a team that are firmly on the ropes with the series shifting to Cleveland.
The two most notable players the Cavaliers got for Irving — Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder — were moved at the trade deadline. Thomas’ replacements (Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance) haven’t done much in the series, while the players Cleveland got in the Crowder deal have been arguably their worst player this postseason (Rodney Hood) and George Hill, who has eight total points and one assist in two games against Boston.
The third player in the Irving deal, Ante Zizic, has seen three minutes of mop up action against the Celtics. The most valuable piece the team acquired, Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round 2018 pick, can’t help Cleveland now, partly because it’s a draft pick and partly because the Cavaliers decided to hold onto it at the deadline instead of moving it for someone like DeAndre Jordan.
Sure, Irving is on the sideline due to knee surgery, but there’s a major “what if?” hanging over Cleveland right now. We know that LeBron James wasn’t a fan of the deal, and apparently, an unnamed Cavs player was frustrated earlier this season with how Celtics GM Danny Ainge stole Irving from under their nose.