Here we are again. A month and a half after the Gordon Hayward signing/non-signing/signing happened the Kyrie Irving trade/non-trade is forcing us all to beg for scraps of information that could help point us in some semblance of a direction.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com has this nugget that shows the Cavs haven’t formally asked for anything new in this deal as far as additional compensation.
The Celtics seem to be bracing themselves to be reengaged but they’re not going to be giving up much else because they feel they’ve been up front about Isaiah’s hip.
As a point of clarification, Ben Rohrbach reminds us that not only do the Celtics feel like they were completely transparent during the process, they also didn’t have much choice to be otherwise.
Additionally, the Celtics were required to disclose “any relevant health information” on this past Tuesday’s trade call with the Cavaliers and the league office. Any misrepresentation of Thomas’ status could result in the league nixing the deal, forfeiture of draft picks, fines up to $1 million and/or a suspension of Boston’s front-office executives, according to Larry Coon’s NBA salary cap FAQ.
So, it stands to reason Boston both disclosed Thomas’ current status and considered that when making its offer to Cleveland. By most accounts, the Cavs did better than anticipated in an Irving deal, considering their own All-Star point guard was reportedly threatening to sit out training camp, and one season of Thomas, however healthy he was during a contract year, was merely a sweetener in a deal that included a potential No. 1 overall pick, Crowder’s cap-friendly deal and a promising 7-footer.
This is all a very delicate and difficult situation, and the Cavaliers do need to tread very lightly here. I’m just guessing, but I feel like a lot of the sourced stuff that’s come out is a public version of a private discussion in the Cavs front office.
I’m betting Altman knew all along what the status of Isaiah’s hip was and he was willing to do the deal because (a) it got him the Nets pick (b) it got him the type of player in Crowder that they’ve really needed for a long time and (c) Isaiah Thomas would eventually return this season and the Cavs are so geared for postseason runs that it didn’t matter if the trade cost them any wins in the early going. Altman did his job and got a great haul for Irving. Once the team doctor got involved and others above Altman got the news, someone freaked out.
If it was Altman who felt screwed, the re-ignition of talks would be under way. It helps no one to drag this out… especially for a 30-something first-time GM. This is a mega-deal that sets the tone for his whole career.
Other GM’s will undoubtedly be asking Ainge WTF happened here. If he says “oh Dan Gilbert freaked out and is causing problems” then it’s probably par for the course in Cleveland. If he says “Koby has no clue what he’s doing and he’s trying to screw me,” then other GM’s will give serious pause before trading with the Cavs.
As much as you might root for back-handed fleecing when trades go down, many of them are done through long-built relationships based on respect. Every GM wants to win trades, but no one is burning bridges.
Altman has risen through the ranks, and he knows how deals get done. It would be truly shocking if Altman was driving this as a negotiating tactic. Planning to gouge a team by agreeing to a deal then purposely failing a player’s physical to extort additional assets out of them is a very bad start to a GM’s career. Even if he gets what he wants in that hypothetical scenario, the real-world consequence could cost the Cavs down the line.
So I personally believe this is a delay caused by someone above Altman, and part of the reason why they haven’t asked for anything yet is because Altman is working behind the scenes to calm his boss/bosses down. He may ultimately be forced to go back to Ainge and say “they’re going to make me void this deal if we don’t get something else”… in which case Boston can float a second round pick and just move on with it.
This is all one big guess on my part. In the end, I think the deal gets done either as is or with a minor additional piece just to get everyone off the ledge. I don’t believe it’s a sinister plan… rather it’s a sign of the dysfunction in Cleveland that’s gotten the Cavs to this point in the first place.
Think about it… which is more likely? A neophyte GM pulling an elaborate extortion plot? Or Dan Gilbert’s craziness… the same craziness that helped drive an NBA lockout, fire the GM who re-acquired LeBron James, create a situation where one of his star players requested a trade and the other is willing to leave his hometown for the SECOND time… is mucking up the completion of a mega-deal?
For what it’s worth, the NBA is still selling Isaiah Cavs gear and Kyrie Boston gear. That really doesn’t mean anything at the moment, but no one is pulling merchandise in anticipation of this falling apart… yet.