By Eduardo Monk Jr.
This offseason has been blockbuster after blockbuster. Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, Paul George to the Thunder, the first overall pick and with it Markelle Fultz to the 76ers, Chris Paul to the Rockets. And right after the NBA landscape had undergone its metamorphosis and begun to settle, the trade we had expected for weeks had finally occurred.
Kyrie Irving is officially a Celtic.
And Isaiah Thomas is a Cavalier. And so is Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick, which early on appears to be another top three selection.
The blockbuster to end all blockbusters. A four time All-Star for the third best scorer in the league this past season. But honestly, this deal really came out of nowhere. Boston felt like a team content with their roster.
They moved a starter in Avery Bradley for a solid role player in Marcus Morris and opened up cap space to prepare to give Thomas a max deal like he wanted. Freshly drafted Jayson Tatum looks incredibly promised throughout the summer league.
Moving their certified star in town along with a strong starter in Jae Crowder and the valuable Brooklyn first is a move from deep left field, especially when it’s for a player near the same level as Thomas is.
But trust me when I say this-Danny Ainge is an absolute genius.
How? Because Kyrie fits in fantastically with the Celtics current timeline.
Allow me to explain. Right now, who’s going to win the 2018 NBA Finals? As of right now barring any unforeseen circumstance, it’s most likely the Warriors. Who’s going to win the 2019 NBA Finals? Again, most likely the Warriors. The Warriors are going to tear this league up for the next, at the very minimum, four seasons. And it very well could be a whole lot longer.
Danny Ainge understood this. No matter how many free agent splashes, no matter how many great draft picks, the Celtics are simply not beating the Warriors in the Finals. If they stood with Thomas and Crowder, they possibly could have made the Finals a couple of times, maybe more depending on the Cavaliers situation, in the next four or five seasons.
But ultimately, every year would simply end with a sweep or a five game series at the hands of the Warriors. The Celtics would have just been running in circles until Thomas, Crowder, and Al Horford begin to decline and the Celtics window has closed.
So what does Danny Ainge do? He makes a move for Kyrie Irving who fits perfectly with the timeline of the Celtics. Because no team is going to be legit contenders for at least four seasons, Ainge turns the Celtics into contenders come 2021.
Kyrie is only 25 years old. Four-five seasons down the road, he will still be in the latter part of his prime with probably four more heavily productive seasons left in the tank. The Celtics now have their superstar who will lead them to a Finals run after the Warriors reign.
For the rest of the crew, the aforementioned Tatum will just be hitting his prime, and the same goes with Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. If two of those four become All-Stars, the Celtics are in a crazy good place. Gordon Hayward will be in his waning years but he will be a seasoned veteran, necessary for any championship roster.
This is not a team competing today. The Celtics are a team with intentions of competing post-Warriors. Which on Danny Ainge’s part, is sheer genius.