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The Warriors used a cheat code the Cavs might never be able to crack

The terms of engagement were set.

The Warriors would go to battle with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and an extremely competent cast of role players. The Cavs would counter that with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LeBron’s veteran pals.

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It was going to be a fair fight, one that was set to provide enduring drama and dozens of thrilling games. Curry is a generational talent, unlike any player LeBron had ever faced before in his career.

But then Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals changed everything. Though the Cavs won the championship that year, that single game in which Klay Thompson went nuclear may have cost LeBron two other championship rings.

After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavs, the Warriors had enough cap room for a max player and they rightly pursued the second-best player in basketball: Kevin Durant.

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The Cavs never planned for the future or opened up cap room to attract high-level free agents to complement LeBron and Kyrie.

Instead, they traded first round picks for Channing Frye and Kyle Korver but those players helped right away and made big shots in tense playoff games. Those deals were a product of the one-year deals that Lebron signed, forcing the organization into “win now” mode.

Durant made what Stephen A. Smith likes to call “the weakest move a superstar has ever made.”

He left behind one of the best teams of the decade to join a club that was never not going to win the championship. The firepower, athleticism, and cohesiveness make it virtually impossible to defend the Warriors.

Durant and the Warriors took the easy road to multiple titles, yet they continue to celebrate the outcome like it was somehow unexpected. They gloat, they dance, they prance, and they scream. But when I see them showboat all I can think is: you cheated, the terms of engagement were set.

LeBron typically uses Game 1 as “feel out game.” But, in the first game of the 2018 NBA Finals, he was clearly playing for keeps.

He knew that if they won that game it would change the whole series and reignite the stress that the Warriors felt from the Rockets series. But, that didn’t happen and the Cavs were swept away.

So, what’s next for LeBron? There isn’t a definitive path to a championship — outside of a move to Boston — with any of the teams that are vying for his services. Moving his family to Houston or Philadelphia just doesn’t seem plausible for a 33-year old LeBron who has no ties to either of those cities.

The most logical destination is to work under the tutelage of Magic Johnson.

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Though the Lakers haven’t landed a surefire All-Star with their high draft picks in the last few years, they have acquired enough good young talent that they can use in a trade for a premier player.

If the Lakers do have Paul George in their back pocket and they could find a way to trade for Kawhi Leonard or Dame Lillard on draft night (yes, I know they have to move Luol Deng), LeBron would have to find that very enticing.

If he does stay in Cleveland, it means he has made up his mind that he will finish his career in The Land and that he is carefully curating his legacy.

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The Cavs are in a tough spot because if they want to trade the 8th pick in the draft for a proven player, they need to do in on draft night. But, the team won’t be informed of Bron’s decision until July 6th or 7th.

If the Cavs, who are capped out and devoid of any real trade assets, run it back next year with the same team plus the 8th pick next year, there is no way LeBron believes that team will come close to a title.

So, the NBA will pause for a week just like it did four years ago and four years before that before LeBron makes the decision on where he’ll go.

But the terms of engagement are no longer set in the NBA, and his choice will once again effect more than half of the franchises in the league.

Did KG deadass tape his hoodie to his head? An investigation

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been in a slump as of late.

After a wild sequence of trades before the deadline, which seemed to be LeBron James clearing house, the “King” visited TD Garden yesterday to play the Boston Celtics.

Former Celtics stars Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and championship winning coach Doc Rivers were in attendance celebrating the retirement of Paul Pierce’s jersey.

Paul Pierce’s No. 34 forever enshrined in the rafters of TD Garden.

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Why against the Cavs? Who knows. Maybe Pierce wanted to rub it in James’ face one last time. Coming into the game, the Cavs seemed vulnerable.

With an almost completely new cast and no Kevin Love going up against the Celtics, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference, it seemed like it would be a cakewalk for Boston.

Nevertheless, it’s completely asinine that Pierce and the Celtics chose to retire his jersey against long-time rival LeBron James who’s still in his bag.

Dope. 🔥 (via @nba)

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As long as the Cavs have LeBron James running the show, they will always be contenders. I understand Paul Pierce is “The Truth” and wanted to keep it real, but Dave Chappelle would classify this case as “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.”

The Celtics got routed 121-99 as the Cavs cruised to victory. Paul Pierce made that bed and today he is still laying in it, feeling hungover from his spoiled celebration. Although the Celtics’ bench was filled with sour faces yesterday, one former Celtic was able to steal the show. That Celtic was Kevin Garnett.

KG had Twitter going bananas trying to figure out how in the HELL his hoodie stayed on his head! Was it super glued to his head?

Maybe Kevin Garnett is a marketing genius because this isn’t the first time that KG has blessed us with his hoodie swag. What wizardry is KG cooking up over at Area21 with his stylist?

T.I.’s sideways caps was a mystery, but what Garnett is doing has to be breaking the rules of physics. I guess given that your squad is down by 30, you have to figure out someway to keep eyeballs glued to the game right?

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Some say Kevin Garnett tapes his hoodie to his head which enables him to style it anyway he desires. We need answers!

One thing I do know is, if we ever find out the company of who designs his hoodies, invest stock in that company because prices are going up. What do you guys think?

Here’s what Twitter was saying.

NBA Twitter comes for everyone after wild trade deadline day moves

Oh man.

The NBA trade deadline came and went today at 3 pm and after a quiet couple days leading up to the deadline, at about noon today everything went wild, starting with the Cavs trading Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

The Cavs have struggled mightily of late and Isaiah Thomas was talking rather spicily about the team’s struggles, openly calling out head coach Ty Lue and questioning the passion of his teammates.

Isaiah Thomas was the cornerstone of this summer’s Kyrie Irving trade. In the end, IT only played 15 games for the Cavs and may have cost himself millions of dollars when his contract is up this summer. This is a dude who averaged over 29 points a game last season and now finds himself on the bench behind a rookie for a 22-win team.

As a Celtics fan, I loved what IT did for Boston and when he was traded away for Kyrie this summer I was pretty conflicted. I also could not have imagined how disastrously it would play out in Cleveland.

Regardless, after dumping IT, the Cavaliers traded… their entire team.

In the end, the Cavs got rid of some serious deadwood in Rose, IT, Frye, Shumpert, Crowder, and Dwyane Wade and got young, athletic, multi-positional players in Clarkson, Hood, and Nance. They also got George Hill, so there’s that.

As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst pointed out, the Cavs also laid the groundwork for the Lakers to land LeBron in free agency in the summer.

Besides the Cavs doing all the stuff, there weren’t many other notable trades. The Knicks did a thing, other teams did things, but when the players involved are Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh, and Milovan Rakovic, well… yeah.

As we all know, the real narrative in the NBA comes from Basketball Twitter, the greatest collection of minds and creativity across the modern zeitgeist. Without further ado, I present to you the greatest tweets of NBA trade deadline day.

“LeBron handing over IT to Magic”

This SI tribute video to IT’s time in Cleveland is… I’m conflicted about it.

Bomani Jones brings up the lack of bag in IT’s future

NBA Twitter rallied around their patron saint J.R. Smith during the Cavs’ yard sale. The J.R. content did not disappoint.

You knew the J.R. confused face was coming out

But in the end, J.R. avoided being traded

Obviously the LeBron content was in full force as well.

It’ll be kind of nice to see D Wade in Miami again

As for Kyrie…

Agreed, Joel.

Adrian Wojnarowski, the most plugged-in figure in NBA media, is always first to every breaking story in the league and NBA Twitter showed their appreciation.

Even players watching Woj’s timeline

Some pointed out Woj’s superiority to other journalists, including The Vertical’s Shams Charania

As our planet slowly melts away and our country descends into chaos, at least we have the NBA to entertain us.

WTF is good with the Cavs? LeBron and team owners are no longer talking

On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up a 21 point lead in a loss to the Orlando Magic, the worst team in the NBA, who were playing without their best player in Aaron Gordon.

The loss was the latest calamity for the Cavs in a season that has suddenly become a total disaster. Ever since LeBron James returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, the Cavs have gone through periods of underperformance.

We’ve seen them “cruise” before, only to turn it on when it matters most and end up in the finals. But body language, player performances, and recent bombshell reports seem to indicate this time is different.

According to multiple reports, from Brian Windhorst at ESPN and Jason Lloyd at The Athletic, the relationship between the Cavs front office and LeBron James has completely collapsed to the point that there is no longer any communication between the two.

After a loss to the flying Houston Rockets on Saturday, Windhorst wrote that if free agency started now, LeBron would likely be off as his contract expires in the summer.

“They aren’t just looking at losing this season, but they are looking at losing LeBron James. If tomorrow were the beginning of free agency, there’s a good chance that would be the case.”

Windhorst further wrote about the form of LeBron James, whose play has fallen off of late after starting the season as an MVP candidate. On Saturday, LeBron scored only 11 points in a weirdly flat performance.

“James (11 points, 3-of-10 from the field) is completely dispirited. Never before in his career has he played like this. Maybe on the occasional midseason evening he has been less than energetic — in the past, he has called it ‘chill mode’ — but never like this.”

The cause of LeBron’s dispirited state at the moment seems to be the degradation of his relationship with Cavs management.

In Lloyd’s piece for The Athletic, he reported on the breakdown between the Cavs and LeBron and how, after losing LeBron once before, Gilbert has done pretty much everything to ensure that happens again.

According to Lloyd, the beef between LeBron and Gilbert is twofold.

“The root of the problems can be traced back to two key issues: David Griffin’s removal as general manager and Kyrie Irving’s subsequent trade to the Boston Celtics.”

David Griffin, who is widely considered to be one of the best general managers in the NBA, didn’t have his contract renewed over the summer. Gilbert promoted assistant GM Koby Altman to the position.

It was Altman who pulled off the Kyrie trade, which was finalized without LeBron’s knowledge, a departure from the days when Griffin and LeBron talked about personnel moves together.

“The [Irving] deal was also completed without consulting James, one source with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Altman called James when it was essentially done and informed him of what was happening… [The trade] had been negotiated entirely without James’ knowledge.

Lloyd further reported on the dynamics between LeBron, Gilbert, and Altman.

“James and Gilbert have no relationship. Neither do James and Altman, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Whereas Griffin would consult with James and keep him informed of major roster decisions, that is no longer happening. James doesn’t trust this front office, and there is no communication now between management and star player.”

The tension is so intense that LeBron reportedly cursed out multiple Cavs executives during a recent team meeting.

“It perhaps played a role in James yelling and cursing at multiple front office executives during the now-famous team meeting a couple of weeks ago that began with players questioning Kevin Love’s absence from a recent practice.”

According to Lloyd, Altman’s hiring was perceived by many to be a power grab from Gilbert. By promoting from within, as opposed to bringing in a high profile hire, Gilbert ensured that he would have final say over personnel moves.

“Six years ago, Altman was an assistant coach in the Ivy League. Now he has vaulted from third chair in the Cavs’ front office last season to the man in charge. While the Cavs insist Altman’s duties are no different from Griffin’s job before him, up and down the roster and throughout the organization, the belief is unanimous that Altman is the front man and Gilbert is in full control.”

With the trade deadline on Thursday, the general perception is that the Cavaliers have to do something big or LeBron will surely bolt this summer. But, with a roster of old players on bad contracts, the team’s options are seriously limited. They do have the highly-coveted Brooklyn Nets pick, acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade, but are hesitant to move a piece that they could use for a rebuild should LeBron end up leaving.

“Looming over all of this is the trade deadline Thursday. Barring something unexpected in these final days, there is nothing out there to fix this team now. They are saddled with a roster of bad contracts nobody wants and a valuable Brooklyn pick with no one worthy of spending it on. Nor are they inclined to trade it, anyway, particularly to patch an aging team that is showing little sign of a potential turnaround.”

This is all bad for the Cavs.

Virtually every important player on the Cavs’ roster is currently underachieving and guys just don’t look happy to be there. Isaiah Thomas, who is coming off a serious hip injury and struggling to find his level from the last couple of seasons, gave a worrying assessment after the loss to the Magic last night.

“When we hit adversity, we go our separate ways. That has to change if we want to be the really good team we want to be.”

As for Cavs fans, you just have to look at the comments under a recent post from the Cavs Twitter account wishing Isaiah Thomas a happy birthday to gauge the state of Cleveland supporters at the moment.

When LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014, most people assumed he’d finish out his career with the Cavs. Now, it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which he stays.

There’s still time for the Cavs to get it together. LeBron could go into Megatron Mode, Isaiah Thomas could return to his exploits of previous seasons, and Altman could pull of a blockbuster.

We should have learned by now to never write off LeBron James, but it’s increasingly looking like things are very different this time.

LeBron apparently considering joining Warriors, would realistically be kinda chill

Last night, ESPN’s Chris Haynes published a story reporting that LeBron James would entertain the prospect of joining the Golden State Warriors in free agency this summer.

Haynes wrote that LeBron has “respect” for the culture that the Warriors have implemented in recent years,

“Out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture, James would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space, sources said.”

But as the Warriors currently have the highest payroll in the league at $135 million, they would have to seriously adjust some contracts in order to bring on LeBron.

As of now, according to Haynes, the Warriors have shown no signs of changing their wage structure to account for LeBron.

“There is no indication that Golden State is evaluating such options to acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time.”

All of this points to the fact that the relationship between the Cavs and LeBron is rapidly deteriorating. The Cavs have struggled of late with Isaiah Thomas yet to reach the levels of last season, a roster of aging veterans, the worst defense in the league, and a recent hand injury to Kevin Love that will see him sidelined for an extended period.

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LeBron is reportedly unhappy with the Cavs front office’s inability to bring in a reputable second scorer like Paul George or Eric Bledsoe last summer. It’s clear that Cleveland has suffered from the departure of former General Manager David Griffin as the roster is currently an unbalanced mess of big names that don’t actually fit together.

Haynes wrote that Warriors ownership is a main draw for LeBron. The Warriors have fostered a culture that has become the envy of the league and James clearly notices what’s going on, especially compared to the current mess in the Cavs front office and ownership.

“James’ distant relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is well-chronicled, and the instability in Cleveland’s front office has been of concern to him, but the Warriors’ strong organizational structure and the prospect of more championships would be an enticement that most veteran players would consider.”

Regardless, this is still all extremely unlikely. The Warriors would most likely have to part with Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant would have to take a paycut, not to mention the Warriors would have to adjust to having three of the best five players in the league (to say the least) in their starting 5.

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As for how the deal would possibly work, Haynes broke down the prospective sign-and-trade.

“A sign-and-trade scenario would be the most realistic way for Golden State to acquire James. The Warriors could build an offer around Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to match salary and tempt the Cavaliers into making a deal, according to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton.”

This would basically end the NBA as we know it. It would also be pretty cool to see LeBron, Steph, and KD balling together, obviously not from a parity perspective, but it would be quite the spectacle.

Naturally, Basketball Twitter had some fun with the rumor.

The NBA is never short of storylines. Best league in the world.

In honor of the LeBron-Wade reunion, here’s their top 10 plays in Miami

After three long years, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are finally back together.

Back in Miami they were the greatest duo in basketball but will they be able to keep that same thing going in Cleveland? They’re both older and Wade is definitely on the decline but maybe playing with LeBron again is all he needs.

The real question is will there be as many alley-oops?

LeBron was too hype when his old friend signed and the two are already chilling.

“Cheers, brother” 🍷 #reunited (via @dwyanewade)

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Of course this was all part of their plan since LeBron left.

This was part of their plan all along. Who knows what’s gonna happen next season, will they try to bring their other buddies CP3 and Hoodie Melo into the mix?

It’s a good thing Wade only signed a one-year deal just in case LeBron dips to the Lakers. If the Cavs end up sucking somehow, then that’s probably what’s gonna happen.

But forget all that, in honor of their reunion, here are their top 10 plays together from the good old Miami days. Enjoy!

10. The no look fast break pass to LeBron for the jam vs. the Bucks

9. LeBron to Wade alley vs. the Knicks

8. The fadeaway alley to D-Wade vs. the Mavs

7. These 2 alleys to LeBron vs. the Wizards

6. This fastbreak in a preseason game vs. the Pelicans

5. This stupid reverse alley to LeBron vs. the Kings

4. LeBron’s alley-oop over John Lucas and the Bulls

3. D-Wade’s full court pass to Bron for the swaggy layup vs. the Pacers

2. The disrespectful no look alley-oop to LeBron vs. the Pelicans

1. The Christmas Day alley-oop to Bron vs. the Lakers

Keep whispering fam: An open letter to Kyrie Irving from a Cavs fan

Dear Kyrie Irving,

My first thought when I saw you on First Take yesterday: you’re not as cool as I thought you were. Yeah, you have a cool sneaker line and throw dope parties on boats in Miami but yesterday was not your finest moment.

You were trying so hard to come across as a thoughtful athlete but all we wanted was for you to speak the fuck up and answer questions that, frankly, were fairly reasonable.

Kyrie feels he didn’t owe LeBron an explanation for leaving Cleveland.

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If you were unhappy in Cleveland or something happened with LeBron but you don’t want to address it publicly, that’s perfectly fine.

But, YOU WENT ON FIRST TAKE BRUH, a show where you know they are going to push your buttons, just to bullshit and berate Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith.

We all know they’re a pair of blowhards, you don’t need to turn this into some thought experiment to prove to the world how unfair sports media is or how debate shows unfairly spin narratives. WE FUCKING KNOW.

We’ve been through a lot together, Kyrie.

You made the shot that delivered Cleveland our first championship in roughly three generations and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.

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We all recognize that you’re a special player but I’m not sure you will ever be great and I think your biggest flaw is that you lack an understanding of your limitations.

You will never be able to dominate an entire conference like Kobe – though I know you wish for nothing more than to ride in the backseat of his Maybach and listen to stories about how he scored 81 on that fateful night.

But let us not forget that for two full seasons, the Cavs were better when Matthew Dellavedova shared the court with LeBron instead of you. LET THAT SINK IN.

You wanted to leave Cleveland, a city that would have revered you for the rest of your career no matter what you did. You left that behind for a city whose fans will boo you in your third week if you get off to a slow start.

You think First Take was rough, get ready for whole segments about your psychology on WEEI where a bunch of dotty old racists named Sully try to dissect your every move.

You played on a really good team before and you play on a nice team now. You guys are cute and fun but you still have to play LeBron and you know he’s coming for you.

I guess what I really want to say is, so long Kyrie and honestly, get it together homie.


A Cleveland Sports Fan

Can Kyrie Irving be to Boston what Kobe Bryant was to the Lakers?

When Kyrie Irving reportedly asked for a trade few months ago, nobody believed that he really wanted to leave the Cavs. Then the trade actually went through and it all became very real. He recently unfollowed LeBron on Instagram, which added even more fuel to the controversy.

But why would Kyrie leave a team that pretty much guarantees an appearance in the NBA Finals every year? That’s because he’s chasing something bigger.

The reason Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland was to be the #1 guy on his team. And looking up to what Kobe was able to do with the Lakers, that’s exactly what Irving wants. Sure Bryant had Shaq but that was Kobe’s team.

The funny thing is that before LeBron came back to the Cavs, Kyrie was the man. This is all an ego thing to show who’s the more important man.

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There is no doubt in my mind that Kyrie can be the next Kobe, especially if the C’s can beat the Cavs in the East. Skill-wise, Irving is a superstar and has the tools to become an elite scorer like Bryant.

Kyrie’s handles are much better than Kobe’s and like his idol, he’s been trusted to take the last shot so many times. It’s almost impossible to guard him one on one especially when he catches fire. Irving has the total package when it comes to a scoring guard… and he passes too!

Kyrie has said in the past that Kobe is an inspiration to him and even had the chance to collaborate on a signature sneaker with him this summer. Are you seeing the parallels?

Of course, the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas for him. A lot of people were very upset that Isaiah had to go, he meant a lot to Celtics fans and helped rebuild that team. Isaiah finally broke his silence on the situation writing in the Player’s Tribune,

“I don’t think this trade made the Celtics any better but that’s not my job.”

Is he saying he’s better than Kyrie? Come on, son.

The Celtics are playing the Cavs opening night. You think Kyrie and LeBron are looking forward to it? We all hope they guard one another that would be a good way to start off the NBA season. Many people say Kyrie will never be as big as LeBron.

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I think he has a big chance to match LeBron, it’s just gonna take him a few years to prove it since he’s on a different team now. Kyrie is only 25-years-old and he isn’t even in his prime yet.

Kyrie has a good chance to win a few more rings if he plays his cards right.

I think Kyrie did the right thing by asking for a trade because of all the rumors that LeBron has problems with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Plus, you never know with LeBron, he will dip on you any second. He’s done it before!

Kyrie could very well be to Boston what Kobe was to LA because his will to be better than King James. He will be an All-Star every year, there is no doubt about that, but let’s see how many more rings he can get.

Kyrie Irving trade official after Celtics sweeten the pot with… 2nd-round pick

The Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas mega-deal is now official after both teams confirmed an agreement last night.

After Cleveland raised questions about Isaiah Thomas’ hip over the weekend, the trade was reportedly in jeopardy, but it seemed impossible for the Celtics and Cavs to go back on such a massive deal.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the most plugged-in dude in sports media, reported that the trade talks had “become a game of chicken” with neither team actually ready to walk away from the negotiations.

The Cavs claimed that they had been misled about the severity of Thomas’ injury, Woj wrote,

“Cleveland maintained that Boston wasn’t fully transparent about the possible length of rehabilitation facing Thomas, who suffered the hip injury in March and was shut down in the Eastern Conference finals. Thomas has been rehabilitating his injury, and he told ESPN on Tuesday that he expected to play this season and believed he would return to an elite level. The Celtics believe they were fully forthcoming in detailing Thomas’ injury, sources said.”

Seems like a pretty standard way of getting the Celtics to sweeten up the deal a little bit. Ultimately a 2020 second-round pick was the final piece that saw the trade go through.

There was a brief moment of panic over the weekend when suddenly it appeared like this trade may not happen, and ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that Milwaukee was prepared to offer a package centered around Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton, but I guess Cleveland just wanted another second-round pick…

As for Thomas, he told ESPN on Tuesday that he’s fine and his career will not be changed by this injury,

“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. 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.”

Word. Well, even as a Celtics fan I hope IT gets back to his healthy best, just not against the C’s.

With this trade official, we can finally put this saga behind us and get back to debating who won this trade.

The morning after: A Celtics fan processes the wild Kyrie Irving trade

At around 6 o’clock last night Twitter was besieged with the news that the Cavs and Celtics were engaged in trade talks surrounding Kyrie Irving.

By 7:30 the deal was done.

The Celtics will trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 1st-round pick for Kyrie Irving.

Just when it seemed the NBA offseason was cooling down and teams were set to start the season in a couple months, the clubs that met in the Eastern Conference Finals last year go and do this shit.

It’s a completely wild trade and I’m feeling pretty damn conflicted about it.

On one hand the Celtics have acquired maybe the most gifted offensive point guard in the league in Kyrie Irving and will slot him next to newly-signed Gordon Hayward and big man Al Horford.

On the other hand, the C’s have given up the heart and soul of their team in Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder.

Pair that with the departure of Avery Bradley earlier in the offseason and the Celtics will have to discover a completely new identity next season with only four players returning from last year’s team.

There’s no doubting that head coach Brad Stevens will be able to figure it out, but the Celtics will no longer be the hard-nosed, defensively solid team that they have been over the last couple years.

As a Celtics fan, this trade is both exciting and sad, let’s break it down.

The sad

Seeing Isaiah Thomas leave the Celtics this way is tough.

When the Celtics acquired Thomas from the Suns in February 2015 for Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick (lol), the undersized point guard seized control of a mediocre team and willed them to an unlikely playoff appearance.

Over the years he became a darling in Boston, he understood the city’s rabid and passionate fan base, he embraced the history of the franchise.

Thomas penned a Player’s Tribune article about Celtics fans and wanting to be a Celtic for life. There was a natural connection between the fanbase and Thomas, both of which view themselves as underdogs.

IT took the Celtics from a middling Eastern Conference team loaded with future assets to one of the top teams in the league.

But he’ll turn 29 in February, is coming off hip surgery, and is a free agent after the season. Thomas previously said Boston will need to “bring out the Brink’s truck” in free agency next season, and he deserves it, but Danny Ainge clearly had doubts about supplying that truck.

But jeez, did we really need to give this dude anymore motivation? The 5’9″ Thomas has had a chip on his shoulder his entire life and now the team that finally (supposedly) believed in him is bailing on him because of “serious concerns” about his hip.

I’m already having cold sweats thinking about Thomas dropping 45 in the Anonymous Financial Institution Garden next year and glaring at Danny Ainge.

It sucks that IT is gone. And it’s gonna suck more to see him play with LeBron.

Jae Crowder was also one of the most important players on the Celtics. A gritty, no-nonsense wing defender who can lock up virtually anyone on the court, Crowder became a fan favorite in Boston over the years.

Losing Crowder frees up the wing for young studs Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Crowder was a proven commodity, just a fucking solid player whose offensive game had grown over the years to match his defense.

Again, losing Crowder is just plain wack. He’s one of the glue guys that good teams need and I’m sure playing with LeBron will only boost his game further.

Apparently the big hitch in the deal as the Celtics and Cavs discussed this trade over the last month or so was that the Cavs wanted first-round pick Jayson Tatum in the deal. Ainge refused to part with the young player, who looks destined for big things, but once Ainge was ready to introduce the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, the deal picked up.

Ainge has held onto that pick for a long time now, and some were confused about the fact that this was the deal that caused Ainge to finally pull the trigger on letting that pick go.

Obviously it’s harder to get worked up about losing that pick because it’s just an abstract idea that won’t really matter until next June, but there’s a kind of (albeit hilarious) sentimentality that that fateful Nets/Celtics trade is finally over.

The Celtics no longer have any Nets lottery picks! And while that’s not nearly as upsetting as losing Thomas and Crowder, who are in fact real people, I’m sad to see that pick go. Farewell Nets/Celtics trade, it was truly great while it lasted.

Pour one out for Ante Zizic too.

The litness

So Kyrie Irving is really, really good.

He’s one of the most entertaining players in the league, he already has a ring and has shown that he can make THE BIG SHOTS when it matters, and he doesn’t turn 26 until next March.

Danny Ainge clearly had doubts about IT’s health, paying him the Brink’s truck, and despite Thomas’ numbers, in the playoffs he became a defensive liability.

But Irving is no Gary Payton on the defensive side of the floor, and Ainge may come to regret trading Avery Bradley earlier in the summer as the Celtics may struggle on defense after getting rid of Bradley and Crowder in the offseason.

But they should be an absolute powerhouse offensively.

I’m sure Brad Stevens cannot wait to start designing sets for Kyrie, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics should be one of the more explosive teams in the league and as the NBA becomes more pacy and spacey, the C’s will be able to score with anyone.

They’ve immediately gone from a well-drilled team full of solid role players and one dependable scorer to must-see TV.

Watching Kyrie Irving in a Celtics uniform is going to be really fucking cool. And he’ll have a point to prove after requesting a trade in order to be the star man.

On the financial side, Irving is singed through 2020, so while he’s more expensive in the immediate, after next summer’s max contract for Isaiah Thomas, Irving becomes the cheaper of the two.

Apparently people within the Celtics organization are very sure of the fact that Irving will re-sign with the team after 2020, which means Kyrie will be a Celtic for the foreseeable future and that’s just dope.

The Celtics now have one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA. Some part of me wonders if Ainge made this trade with a slight nod to the future.

LeBron will be 33 in December, and possibly leaving for the West Coast after this season, and the Celtics should be competitive for years to come. This does position the Celtics pretty damn well for life post-LeBron, whenever the hell that will be.

As for the immediate, this just ratcheted up the Celtics/Cavaliers rivalry severely.

Let’s start the damn season.