Five reasons why Cleveland and Boston both won blockbuster deal

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By Jack Ankony, executive sports editor
We all saw it coming. It was just a matter of time until Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was traded. His trade request, publicly making fun of LeBron James with Steph Curry, and a slew of comments and reports all made Irving’s departure inevitable.
What we didn’t see coming is Irving’s new home in Boston. On Aug. 22 the Cavaliers traded Irving to Boston for PG Isaiah Thomas, F Jae Crowder, C Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round pick. If all goes according to plan, we will see a Cleveland versus Boston Eastern conference finals which could be more tense than any Westbrook and Durant rematch.
When blockbuster trades like this happen, many media sites are quick to debate “Who was the winner of this trade?” While in some cases there are winners, in this trade both teams won. Yes, it is perfectly okay to have two winners of a trade. If you are having a tough time letting that sink in, here are five reasons why both Cleveland and Boston won the trade.

  1. Boston got the best player.

Irving is one of the top point guards in the league. At 25, he still has seven years to be a superstar in this league, and probably a couple years after that to still be very relevant. Irving is bigger, stronger, and a better scorer than Isaiah Thomas. He also proved he has the clutch gene when he hit the shot to down the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Though it may take a month into the season for him to establish chemistry with the rest of the Celtics, they will be just fine and in the hunt to stop Cleveland’s run of consecutive Finals appearances.

  1. Boston didn’t have to get rid of Tatum, Brown.

After Boston’s trade with the Brooklyn Nets to get rid of Paul Pierce, they inherited multiple lottery picks. The past two years they drafted Jayson Tatum out of Duke and Jaylen Brown out of California, both with the 3rd overall pick. In my mind, Tatum or Brown would have needed to be traded in order to get Irving, but credit to Danny Ainge for keeping the Celtics’ young core.

  1. Cleveland got better value for Irving than Butler, George.

The two other major trades this NBA offseason were Jimmy Butler going to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Paul George going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. For Butler and the 16th pick in the 2017 draft, the Bulls received G Kris Dunn, G Zach Lavine, the 7th overall pick in the 2017 draft. For George, the Pacers received G Victor Oladipo and F Domantas Sabonis. Coming from a Bulls fan, Butler was worth much more than they got, and on the other hand, the Thunder kept a good core while obtaining George. Seeing the market for Butler and George, Cleveland received much more value compared to the Bulls and Pacers. Irving is probably one tier than Butler and George, but his return value was immensely better.

  1. Crowder improves Cleveland’s scrutinized difference.

During last year’s playoff run, the Cavaliers were constantly criticized for their poor defense, so much so that Skip Bayless insisted on calling them “Clevelan” (because they play no defense). Jae Crowder will make up for a good deal of their defensive struggles. At 6 foot 6 inches, Crowder is physical and can guard positions 2 through 4. He could be the player that takes just enough weight off LeBron’s shoulders on defense to make a big difference.

  1. Cleveland can now convince LeBron to stay, or be okay if he leaves.

Get ready for the LeBron James free agency talk, because it is coming in the summer of 2018. The Lakers have been the team with the most talk surrounding the acquisition of LeBron. But after this trade, Cleveland could have enough intriguing pieces to convince him to stay. With Thomas, Love, Crowder, and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round pick – likely in the top three – LeBron will have a tough decision to make. If LeBron does choose to leave and possibly team up with the first born son of Big Baller Brand in Los Angeles, Cleveland could still compete in the East. Though they would be without LeBron – he would be in the Western Conference – the Cavaliers could still be contenders with the Celtics, Wizards, Raptors, and possibly the up-and-coming 76ers to worry about.