The blockbuster trade, delayed and in jeopardy of dying, is done: Kyrie Irving is headed to the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas is going to the Cavaliers and the NBA can take a well-earned, late-summer break.
For a minute.
Concerned with medical findings after looking at Thomas’ injured right hip, the Cavs have negotiated another draft pick from Boston to compete the mega-deal that stalled, the teams announced in a joint statement early yesterday.
The teams modified the original deal and Cleveland also get a second-round pick in 2020 from the Celtics, a pick they acquired from Miami.
After days of uncertainty, both sides can move forward toward a season that is due to start with the Cavs hosting the Celtics on Oct. 17.
The teams had a deadline of 10am yesterday to agree on the trade, which was prompted by Irving demanded to be dealt in July. New Cavs general manager Koby Altman pulled it off by sending the team’s second-best player to the Celtics for Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and an unconditional first-round pick next year.
The Cavs had balked at pushing the Aug. 22 trade through last week after Thomas underwent a physical. He tore a labrum last season in the playoffs against Cleveland and it is possible he might not be ready for the start of the season.
On Tuesday, Thomas told ESPN he is “not damaged” and believes he will return to All-Star form.
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas said. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
Thomas decided not to have surgery and has been rehabbing his hip this summer.
Irving grew into one of the NBA’s biggest stars with the Cavs and he will always be remembered for making the go-ahead three-pointer over Golden State’s Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when Cleveland won the title, but while he was adored by Cleveland fans, Irving struggled playing in the shadow of LeBron James and shortly after the Cavs were beaten in this year’s NBA Finals by the Warriors a disgruntled Irving demanded a trade.
Meanwhile, of course, there is always drama surrounding James, who will try to make his eighth straight NBA Finals before possibly opting out of his contract next summer and hitting the free-agent market again.
If he leaves, the Cavs have the first-round pick — maybe even the top pick overall — they got from Boston to help them rebuild, but that is next summer. For the moment, this chaotic one has finally calmed down.
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