addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
BOSTON – Superstars win championships, and the Boston Celtics just added one who already has a title notch on his belt.
Kyrie Irving, a 25-year-old, four-time All-Star with a championship pedigree, is now a Celtic.
He did not come at a cheap price, but young superstars never do. It takes a lot to get a lot, and the Celtics were willing to pay the price.
Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami's 2020 second-round pick are headed to Cleveland. That’s a lot, no question. But again, it takes a lot to get a lot.
As great as Thomas and Crowder were for Boston, and as much potential as Zizic and the Brooklyn pick hold, Irving is still unquestionably the best player of the group. And now, as he steps out of LeBron James’ shadow, he’ll have the opportunity to be the top dog on Boston’s roster.
He’s no longer Robin; he’s now Batman, and that’s a scary proposition for opposing teams to contemplate as the 2017-18 season inches closer.
Let’s remember that even while playing second fiddle to James, Irving played a critical role on a championship team, became an Olympic gold medalist and won an All-Star game MVP. And as great as James is, Cleveland may still be searching to end its championship drought had Irving not connected on the game-winning 3-pointer with 53.3 seconds left in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Simply put, players of Irving’s caliber, with Irving’s experience, who are only 25 years old and who are ready and eager to take the next step in their evolution as players don’t come available very often. Irving became available, and Danny Ainge pounced on the opportunity to acquire him.
What must also be taken into consideration in regard to this trade is what the Celtics have done for their future. Irving is under contract for two more seasons (the last of which is a player-option year) than Thomas, who is set to become a free agent after the upcoming season. Irving’s deal was also signed under the previous collective bargaining agreement, which means that the Celtics have not only added security and an upgrade at the point guard position, but they also did so while adding a team-friendly contract under the new CBA.
Meanwhile, Crowder’s departure opens up the door for the past two No. 3 overall picks in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to play more substantial roles next season and speed up their development as players. The same can be said about Semi Ojeleye and Abdel Nader, whom the Celtics view as talented prospects who could become valuable pieces of the team’s rotation for years to come.
Still, with all of these factors considered, not every analyst will agree that the Celtics won this trade. However, history is on Boston’s side when it comes to making superstar trades.
Ainge and the Celtics were questioned the last two times they made trades involving superstars. Guess how those moves turned out for Boston? Home runs.
The Celtics gave up a stockpile of young and talented players with tons of upside, as well as draft picks, back in 2007 to acquire Kevin Garnett. That trade returned the Celtics to elite status in the NBA, and it resulted in the team winning its 17th championship in 2008.
The hearts of Celtics fans around the world were then broken in July of 2013 when the team traded Paul Pierce and Garnett away to the Brooklyn Nets in return for no All-Star players and a heaping of draft picks. That move was also questioned, but it is now viewed as one of the most lopsided in the history of the league, well in favor of Boston.
Is this deal a no-brainer for Boston? It depends on who you ask, but if you ask Ainge, the answer is yes.
He has never been afraid to make bold moves, and he made another one Tuesday night.
He acquired a 25-year-old superstar, and superstars win championships in the NBA.