The Celtics are suddenly one of the front-runners to land Kyrie Irving in a trade with the Cavs.
NBA GM’s are almost all on vacation this time of year though, including Celtics boss Danny Ainge (last seen in a Utah dunk tank), so if any Kyrie deal goes down it will most likely happen closer to September, and the start of NBA training camps.
There’s a very good possibility this could drag into the regular season as well. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert may want to see if the Kyrie – LeBron marriage can be saved and if the current Cleveland group has one more run in it. If all hell breaks loose early in the campaign, and LeBron is more passive aggressive than ever – anything and everything will be possible with the Cavs regarding the NBA trade deadline. Imagine if the Cavs are stuck in mediocrity in late January? Imagine what LeBron as a four month rental would command on the trade market? I know he said he wouldn’t waive his no trade clause, but if the writing is on the wall early in 2018 – LeBron would certainly contemplate a move. At this stage in his NBA career (he’ll be 33 by the time the 2018 playoffs roll around), he doesn’t want to waste one postseason in which he doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning a title.
Kyrie could also most definitely be dealt closer to the trade deadline, and the Celtics would be an obvious landing spot.
There is a scenario out there in which the Celtics would not have to give up Isaiah Thomas, either.
Dating back to his time as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Ainge has been a huge fan of small lineups. In the 1997-98 season, Ainge would routinely trot out a lineup that included guards Rex Chapman, Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. That team also had a young Steve Nash coming off the bench. All of those players were 6-foot-4 and under.
Irving is 6-foot-4 on a good day.
Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens are of the belief that the NBA is now a league of position-less basketball and it’s as simple as – if you get the ball in the hands of an elite player, good things will happen. Irving and Isaiah are certainly elite.
Height is just a number in today’s NBA. Consider that “small forwards” Gordon Hayward (6-foot-8) and Kevin Durant (6-foot-9) are both bigger than Warriors power forward/center Draymond Green (6-foot-7).
Defense and rebounding would obviously be a huge concern for Stevens and the Celtics if they are indeed entertaining a Kyrie – Isaiah pairing. Despite his one vote for All-Defensive team, Isaiah is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Kyrie is also heavily scrutinized for his defense, but he may not be as bad as most think he is. He can get the job done on the defensive end in big moments – in fact he had a 103.3 defensive rating (17.4 net) heading into the 2017 Finals against Golden State (via KingJamesGospel.com).