Last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the entire league when they traded their second best player, Kyrie Irving, to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick. It was later revealed that Irving expressed his desire to step out of LeBron James' shadow and demanded a trade from the Cavaliers. As of now, most people will agree that the Celtics won the blockbuster deal.
The assets the Cavaliers acquired from the Celtics failed to make themselves fit playing alongside LeBron, and two of them, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, were sent out of Cleveland before the Eastern Conference Playoffs 2018 started. The Cavaliers tried to revamp their roster before the February NBA trade deadline, but that was not enough to help them win their second NBA championship title.
According to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, the Cavaliers can still call the Kyrie Irving trade a success. Swartz explained that the Cavaliers' decision to engage in a trade deal with the Celtics is not really about acquiring Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. The Cavaliers pushed through with the deal because they were already seeing the inevitable post-LeBron future.
"Cleveland had just come off an embarrassing NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, winning just one of the five games. After the Cavs completed the greatest comeback in Finals history a summer before, it quickly became clear that the trio of James, Irving and Kevin Love wouldn't be good enough to beat a Warriors team that added Kevin Durant. They were also well aware James was going into a contract year and could leave them again with no rebuilding plan in place. The last time that happened, the Cavaliers went an East-worst 19-63 and lost a then-record 26 games in a row."Trading Kyrie Irving helped the Cavaliers get ready in the second departure of LeBron James in free agency. It's worth noting that before the February NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers flipped Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder into Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood. All those three players are expected to become part of the Cavaliers' long-term plan. Also, Collin Sexton, the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round pick the Cavaliers acquired from the Celtics, is currently one of the top favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award next season.
The only time the Celtics can say that they win the blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers is once Kyrie Irving succeeds to help them win an NBA championship title. The Celtics are predicted to become the new ruler of the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference, but it remains questionable if they have what it takes to beat the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, in a best-of-series. Also, Irving is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and there are speculations that the All-Star point guard is planning to leave Boston to team up with his Team USA teammate Jimmy Butler.