Kyrie Irving Trade, Completed Six Years Ago Today, Flopped for Cavs, Celtics

On this day in 2017, the Cavaliers granted Kyrie Irving his wish.LeBron James holds the ball as Kyrie Irving defends

It was a move that Irving forced, demanding a trade or reportedly threatening to have surgery and sit out the season. So then-GM Koby Altman (now president of basketball operations) sent Irving to the Celtics for a package that included point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

It’s safe to say the deal was a bust — for both teams.

Irving, LeBron James and the Cavs won a championship in 2016. They fell short the next year, but had reached the Finals again, losing to the Warriors after they added Kevin Durant. Still, the Cavs seemed to be a move away.

Rumors began to circulate that they were thinking of making a splash and trading for that piece. A younger Paul George, then with the Pacers, was among those reportedly being explored.

We don’t know if any of that is true, of course. But word is, Irving heard these rumors, too. We don’t know if they played a role in him demanding a trade.

Others said Irving had grown weary of playing in James’ shadow. That may have been true. During one game back in 2017, James dribbled up the floor and Irving’s father could be heard shouting from the stands. “Get the ball to the point guard!” he said.

In other words, signs of Irving not being thrilled playing alongside James began to emerge.

So off he went to Boston and the drama ensued. He never took the Celtics any further than they had already gone without him. Injuries and general annoyances from his teammates made the Celtics want to ship him out almost as quickly as he arrived.

As for the Cavs, Thomas and Crowder just never really fit (Thomas was coming off hip surgery) and Zizic was a throw-in who never played. Things were so rocky that the Cavs turned around and traded Thomas and Crowder in February to reshape the roster around James yet again.

They got back to the Finals, for a fourth straight year, losing to the Warriors yet again. After the season, James bolted for the Lakers in free agency.

But it all started with the Irving trade. Some theorize that James and Irving would have at least one more championship in Cleveland, and perhaps more, had everyone just been patient, got along, and stayed together.

So yes, the constant moving around may have actually hindered the title aspirations of Irving and James. 

And it all began on this day six years ago, when Irving insisted he’d never play for the Cavs again.

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