Don’t kid yourself, the Cavs did not win the Kyrie Irving trade

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 28: Kyrie Irving
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 28: Kyrie Irving /
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CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 9: Kyrie Irving
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 9: Kyrie Irving /

You can spin it any way you’d like, but the Cleveland Cavaliers did not win the Kyrie Irving trade.

I thought this was obvious. But as I’ve looked around the basketball internet, I’ve seen more and more people arguing that the Cleveland Cavaliers actually came out on top in their August blockbuster with the Celtics—most notably NBC Sports’ Mark Felger and Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz.

The trade after the dust has settled.

After all the player movement in Cleveland’s 2017-18 campaign, it can be hard to remember what and who Cavs’ star Kyrie Irving actually turned into.

Following a trade request in the embers of the 2017 offseason, Irving was dealt to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick. Many believed just after the trade that the Cavs had gotten quite the deal for Irving, myself included.

Thomas was coming off an MVP-caliber season with the Celts in which he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game. Crowder looked like a prototypical 3-and-D wing and potential Kevin Durant stopper for the upcoming Finals.

Brooklyn’s 2018 pick was both trade bait to improve the team or an insurance policy if LeBron left. And Zizic, the 21-year-old Croatian seven-footer, was icing on the cake.

However, Thomas’ hip quickly became a concern. Once it was clear that his injury was a bigger deal than originally made out to be, the Cavs squeezed the Celtics for further compensation for their former first-overall pick.

Their reward? A measly 2020 second-round pick.

From here, the writing should’ve been on the wall.

Thomas did not don the Wine and Gold until January. After just 15 games, it was clear he was no longer the player Cleveland bargained for. On February 8, they dealt him, along with Channing Frye and their first-round pick, to the Los Angeles Lakers for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Irving was thought by some to be an early season MVP-candidate as he averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists.

Clearly, Thomas lost the battle between them.

Crowder’s departure came soon thereafter in the form of a three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings. This trade saw Rodney Hood and George Hill come to Cleveland in exchange for Crowder, Derrick Rose, and Iman Shumpert.

Ante Zizic is the only member of the original trade still on the Cavs’ roster and this past June, Brooklyn’s first-round pick became Alabama’s Collin Sexton.