Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Celtics Acquire Kyrie Irving in Swap With Cavs for Isaiah Thomas
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics have agreed upon a blockbuster deal that will essentially swap Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, league sources told ZAGSBLOG.
ESPN and Yahoo first reported the deal was in the works.
The trade means the Celtics are getting a former No. 1 pick in Irving in exchange for a former No. 60 pick in Thomas. Irving, who averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists last season, is still under contract for two more seasons (with a player option in 2019-20), while Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists, becomes a free agent after next season.
Danny Ainge and the Celtics will now build around a core of Irving, free agent pickup Gordon Hayward, rookie forward Jayson Tatum and wing Jaylen Brown. They also own the Lakers pick in 2018 if it’s 2-5.
“For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him,” Ainge said in a statement, adding, “Isaiah embodied what it meant to be a Celtic.”
The Cavs will also receive forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Nets first-round pick in 2018. In a loaded 2018 draft, that could include Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton.
That’s the only way to be to the kid! Special talent/guy! Nothing but respect and what a ride it was our 3 years together Young Gode #Filayyhttps://t.co/wKYmYsmdgG
By 2018, LeBron James could choose to opt-out of his deal with the Cavaliers, meaning Cleveland could potentially rebuild around the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Irving and James had a serious falling out and sources in the Irving camp said he wanted to go “Anywhere but Cleveland.”
In Boston, Irving lands in a place familiar to his family. His father, Drederick Irving, played at Boston University and helped the Terriers advance to the NCAA Tournament in 1988. The elder Irving also met his first wife, Liz, at BU.
“Some of his best friends live here,” one source said of the elder Irving. “He knows the city.”
Now Kyrie and the Celtics could meet James and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Irving and the Celtics will open the regular season in Cleveland Oct. 17.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.