Kyrie Irving was granted his request to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, sent to the Boston Celtics in a trade that has shaken the core of the Eastern Conference.
Boston has undergone a huge makeover despite going into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed last season. The reason, it appears, is simple: Big goals need big stars. The Celtics made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals with their Isaiah Thomas-led core, but it didn't appear to be enough.
The Celtics overhauled their roster, cutting salary to make space for free agency acquisition Gordon Hayward. While star players like Jimmy Butler and Paul George were traded for less-than-ideal packages, Boston kept their tradeable assets close to the vest.
The reason for that? Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is a practical leader who didn't want to burn any of Boston's valuable pieces on trades that were only short-term. The threat of George leaving to Los Angeles in 2018 scared teams away from acquiring him, while Boston passed on doubling down on wing depth with Butler.
So why did Boston finally part ways with a package of Thomas, the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round pick and Jae Crowder? The "strong belief" that Kyrie will stay in Boston long-term, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Even better, their new franchise player is "thrilled" to be joining the Celtics. Boston may have had a strong core prior to Kyrie joining, but it wasn't built for long-term sustainable success. Hayward and Irving represent a much brighter future for Boston.
Kyrie's excitement over joining Boston isn't unwarranted, but it is interesting to consider. Irving remains on a team bound for a deep playoff run, has a new young running mate in Hayward to grow with and one of the top tactical coaches in the league in Brad Stevens.
Reports that Kyrie no longer wanted to play with LeBron, team executives being unable to contact him during the offseason and his reported excitement to play for a new team point to a much-needed fresh start for Uncle Drew. He's getting that, and is heading into as good a situation as possible.
The Celtics should find immediate success, making their chances of retaining Kyrie high. He's under contract through the 2018-2019 season, and has a $21.3 million player option attached that could take him through another season with Boston.
As we've seen time and time again, there's a fairly good chance Irving will decline that option to cash in on a big pay increase. Boston's been unwilling to to trade their assets for seemingly forever, and finally doing so to land Kyrie is a big show of confidence from Ainge.News Now - Sport News