The Boston Celtics have learned to survive, even thrive, without superstar guard Kyrie Irving. Obviously they would prefer to have him on their side as they get set to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. But here’s the good news. Kyrie’s not playing for Cleveland either.
Irving was of course shipped from Cleveland to Boston last year. It’s a trade however that ESPN.com NBA writer Dave McMenamin says probably shouldn’t have happened.
McMenamin – who covers the Cavaliers for ESPN – joined Adam Kaufman on the Celtics Beat Podcast on CLNS Media and said that if LeBron and Ty Lue had their way, Kyrie would still be a Cav.
“I just know that two of the most important people on the Cavs in Tyron Lue and LeBron James were both against the trade,” McMenamin said. “If the Cavs somehow manage to win the NBA Championship this year despite trading away an MVP candidate like Kyrie Irving then maybe that’ll change people’s minds. But talent trumps all in this league. And both those guys, Ty and LeBron, felt like they didn’t get enough talent back.”
Hard to argue against that. The return for Cleveland was Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic and a first round pick. Crowder and Thomas were odd fits and both dealt at the deadline. Zizic has hardly played and the Brooklyn pick will probably end up being in the 8-9-10 range instead of a top 3 as Cleveland had hoped.
It was obvious Irving wanted to be traded but McMenamin questions whether Cleveland had to do it.
“We quoted a source saying, “Kyrie’s was tired of being Robin to LeBron’s Batman.” I do believe that’s true. But I also believe that he had two more years left on his contract and he’s a competitor,” McMenamin told Kaufman.
McMenamin believes Irving had no real leverage and had Cleveland decided to play hard ball and hold onto him, it’s possible he’d be playing for them right now, in the playoffs.
“Had the Cavs not traded him would he have sat out all year? He probably would have gotten that knee procedure that he threatened to do,” McMenamin said. “That’s fine though. Let’s say he got his knee procedure and he was healthy by January, what was going to happen then? Is he going to keep sitting out? You going to become Jamal Tinsley? That scenario never made sense to me.”