Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
After Cleveland’s physical examination of Isaiah Thomas’ injured hip raised concern about the timeline for his return this season, Cavaliers officials are planning to seek an additional trade asset before finalizing a deal to send four-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, league sources said.
Without revisions to the original trade agreement, the Cavaliers could threaten to veto the trade, league sources said.
The Cavaliers’ stance could trigger a standoff between Cleveland and Boston officials, forcing both organizations to weigh the consequences of letting the blockbuster trade implode.
If it is determined that Thomas will require surgery, Cleveland would most likely call off the trade. But it is also possible that the Cavaliers could just ask for more compensation, putting the Celtics in an odd position. On one hand, Boston already has surrendered quite a bit. But if Thomas is sidelined and Irving is with the Celtics, it would seem to create a pretty clear path to the NBA Finals for Boston, so the Celtics might be more willing to add a piece rather than face the prospect of not having Irving and starting next season with an injured point guard.
Surgery would be a crushing blow to Thomas, however, causing him to miss most, if not all, of his final season before entering free agency. He has made it very clear that he will seek a max contract next summer, but surgery would make that all but impossible.
Boston’s side of the story: We gave you all the information, this should be no surprise to you. Everyone knew the hip was going to be a problem and you still agreed to the deal.
Cleveland’s side: Yeah, but we didn’t know it was THIS bad so we’re going to need the pot sweetened here…. especially since we could lose LeBron AND Isaiah next summer.
The Cavs are playing a little game with Boston here. They are trying to win one more championship before LeBron possibly bolts that decaying franchise. If Isaiah misses significant time… which their team doctor must be expecting… then they risk LeBron’s health by relying on him too much to stay at the top of the standings until Isaiah can return and burning him out before the playoffs.
But it doesn’t really matter where they are in the standings when Isaiah returns. Whenever he gets back, even if it takes a couple of months, the Cavs will be fine.
Surgery, though, would be a game-changer. This is where it gets a bit hazy… and this where they can extort Boston out of more assets to get this deal done.
We all knew the possibility of surgery existed from day one. We knew it would be a long recovery if he got the surgery, but since he didn’t get his hip surgically repaired, it seemed Isaiah would simply rehab and strengthen the hip and move on. I certainly thought the possibility of surgery was behind us and the Celtics were moving forward with Isaiah as their guy. And I certainly figured surgery wasn’t going to be necessary when they moved him in a trade. That information had to be exchanged between teams ahead of time.
Still, the team doctors can’t get a look at Isaiah until the trade is done. Once it was announced, they got in there and gave their opinion. Whatever opinion that was, it was enough to give the Cavs an opening to call Boston and say “these goods are more damaged than you let on.”
Now there’s talk about them coming back and asking for one of Boston’s other young players, like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum. To which I’d tell Cleveland to F off. They can go live life with Malcolm Brogdon and Kris Middleton, which doesn’t really solve their problems the same way Boston’s offer can.
If anything, Boston can add another draft pick to sweeten the deal. But I sure as hell wouldn’t add another first rounder. Boston has a bunch of second round picks they can toss into the deal to make Cleveland feel better about things. As far as I’m concerned, a deal is a deal and the only way they can even sniff the NBA Finals again is with Isaiah as their point guard, surgery or not. Brogdon and Middleton, while both nice players, aren’t going lift Cleveland past Golden State. They might not lift Cleveland past Boston.
So while the Cavs might be trying to extort more out of Boston, they have to be careful. They risk losing the Nets pick in this deal if they get too pushy. Koby Altman also risks alienating other teams if word gets out that he’s being shady with his dealings.
In the end I think this deal gets done either as is or with an additional draft pick. They can’t have Kyrie back in Cleveland and they can’t get the value they got from Boston somewhere else. The Celtics would have some serious relationship mending to do but that would be mostly on Ainge. Brad Stevens can sit with them and say “hey, we’re grown ups here and this is the shitty part of the business but we’re here now after all of this and it’s in everyone’s best interests to handle ourselves like mature adults.”
Still… we’ve crossed the Rubicon on this trade. Somehow they’ll figure it out.
CSNNE: Bean: Kyrie Irving trade holdup makes the Cavaliers look even worse | Report: Cavaliers seeking additional compensation to complete Irving trade | Blakely: Celtics including more in trade for Kyrie might be quickest solution | Reports: Reworking, rather than rescinding, of Celtics-Cavs trade?
MassLive: Kyrie Irving trade: Cavaliers ‘could threaten to veto’ deal if Boston Celtics don’t include another asset (report) | Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics rookie, says he reads rumors, tells child ‘I’m just happy to be here’
Boston Sports Journal: Column: Celtics need to play hardball with Cavs on Kyrie Irving deal
The rest of the links: