Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kyrie Irving

The Kyrie Irving trade makes so little sense to me for two main reasons…

a) the fact that a player seems to regard being LeBron James’ Scottie Pippen for three years to be a burden
b) the fact that such a major trade was swung between two arch-rival teams at the top of the Eastern Conference

Let’s start with B, since I guess Boston’s much-ballyhooed amount of draft picks and roster assets was enough to entice anyone, even a Cleveland team that is in direct competition with them for a ticket to the Finals.  I can definitely see a scenario where both teams feel they took the other for a ride — on paper, the Cavaliers got a much larger array of talent and a top pick in the 2018 draft, and Isaiah Thomas may be just as good as Kyrie was.  From the Celtics’ perspective, they unloaded a tiny point guard with hip problems, some good but not irreplaceable players and one of only many major draft picks in their stockpile for one of the NBA’s ten best players.  The Celtics have had a great core the last couple of years but are missing that elusive elite player that every NBA champion besides the 2003 Pistons had possessed.  Now, in Irving, they think they have that guy, and he already had a ring and he’s four years younger than Thomas.

From Irving’s perspective, I guess I can see his point? Sort of?  James can’t be the easiest teammate in the world to play alongside since, for all intents and purposes, he’s your GM and not really a teammate.  The modus operandi for the last three-plus years of Cavaliers basketball has been to find pieces that complement LeBron; Irving, as important as he was to the Cavs prior to The Second Decision, was also another one of those expendable parts.  No matter what Kyrie did, he was always potentially a candidate to be sent out the door if the Cavaliers could’ve found a LeBron-preferred upgrade.  Irving may feel that he’s got his ring, and now the rest of his career is gravy, so he wants to be The Man for a team.

This being said…I mean, talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.  Kyrie didn’t lead Cleveland to as much as a playoff berth until LeBron showed up.  If James had never decided to return to his home state, Irving’s tune might’ve been totally different.  He could still have been asking for a trade this summer, except now it would’ve been “deal me to be a cog in a superteam, I’m tired of being The Man on a losing franchise, I just want to win.”  Kyrie has reportedly been envious about how point guard peers like Damian Lillard and John Wall have gotten the chance to be franchise guys on “their own” teams.  This would be the Trail Blazers and Wizards, btw, two teams that haven’t gotten beyond the second round whereas Kyrie is a three-time NBA finalist.  To put the shoe on the other foot, you don’t think Lillard or Wall would’ve traded the last three years for a chance to play with LeBron and get a chance at a ring every year?

It’s a fascinating trade, made all the most layered by the fact that it’s an open secret LeBron is leaving for the Lakers after the coming season.  I have no idea who’s going to win the Eastern Conference next year, aside from the fact that…it’ll be one of these two teams.  And then the Warriors will beat them in the Finals.  Okay, so maybe this trade doesn’t really change the predictable NBA landscape all *that* much.

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