The hype that engrossed the NBA world last week following the blockbuster Boston Celtics-Cleveland Cavaliers trade has now been humorously thwarted. The status of Isaiah Thomas' hip injury had Cavaliers officials worried during his physical, and Cleveland are now seeking more compensation from the Celtics. In a deal that was already seen as lopsided in favor of the Cavs by many, could the Cleveland now pull off one of the biggest heists in NBA history?
Cleveland hold the cards
While it's no secret Kyrie Irving wants to leave the Cavs, Cleveland need be in no rush to deal him. After all, the season is still a while away, and there would be numerous other suitors for Irving's services. However, it would certainly be a relief to finalize a deal, as we all thought they had. Now, with the status of the trade up in the air, Cleveland have certainly given themselves lots of leverage. The Celtics will be desperate to get the deal done, as it would be an awkward reunion if they had to keep the assets they traded away.
The Cavs are imploring the Celtics to include either of the Boston's two budding stars in Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, or another draft pick (presumably first round). As Thomas' injury certainly casts a cloud over the conclusion of this trade, the Cavs are hoping for an extra asset to sweeten the deal, and reduce the risk. Unlike the Celtics, the Cavs aren't necessarily in an awkward situation. Irving looks unlikely to suit up for the Cavs this season whether this trade goes through or not. If this trade falls through, the Celtics' assets all return in what can only be predicted as an uncomfortable locker room dynamic.
Should the Celtics bend?
The incentive for the completion of this deal is totally on the Celtics. Throwing in another asset in an already stacked trade is contingent on how desperately they want to acquire Irving. The Celtics could attempt to hold out on changing the terms of the trade, and see if they can call the Cavs' bluff. If this attempt goes pear-shaped, they could always renegotiate with the Cavs and throw in the extra asset.
If the Celtics are to add to this trade, they would be smart to include their 2018 first-round pick. They are currently slated to have two 2018 first-round picks, with one coming via the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics look set to have their first-round pick fall late in the first round in 2018, with the team poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Lakers' pick, however, should be an early round option given Los Angeles are likely to miss the playoffs. For the Celtics, trading their pick, which will be likely late-first-round, is the smartest option. This isn't to say that pick couldn't select a future star, but it's safer than dealing an almost-assured lottery pick.
Either way, the blockbuster trade involving Irving, Thomas et al. is at the crossroads. If it implodes, it will be a massive anti-climax for all concerned. But if the Cavs play it smart, they could well score a haul that will set the franchise up for years to come.
Do you think the Celtics should hold out on the Cavaliers, or should they give in to the Cavaliers' demands? Comment below!