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Sam Miguel

The Trade

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are becoming the NBA franchise for milestone events in the Internet Age.

First there was "The Decision". Then came "The Return". Now we have "The Trade".

The first two events centered around LeBron James, without a doubt the biggest damn star in all of Cleveland sports history, no disrespect meant to Mr James Brown.

That third event though, that is something that has gotten quite the buzz.

Allow me to explain, Praxedes:

Kyrie Irving, the top pick of the 2011 NBA Rookie Draft, an All Star and USA Basketball stalwart, asked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to trade him a couple months back, reportedly because he "wanted to be more of the focal point" according to media articles and features.

Fair enough, a man can certainly make his own decisions regarding his career.

Fast forward to less than a few hours ago (as of this writing) and that trade has been consummated.

Who did Cleveland get for Irving?

Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and an unprotected 2018 draft pick.

Thomas, picked 60th and last in the same draft where Irving went first overall, became a bona fide superstar last season, at one point averaging 30 points per game and eventually settling down to a little over 28 ppg.

Had this been a one-for-one trade nobody would be talking about it much. After all, it was basically score-first superstar point guards swapping places.

But the Celtics threw in Crowder, a lottery draftee, who is one of the best two-way players in the league and a top defender at both forward spots. They also threw in Zizic, still a work in progress as another 7-foot project but one with pretty good upside according to scouts.

But the ultimate throw-in is that 2018 unprotected draft pick.

Praxedes, do you know how Boston got that pick?

They got that pick during their massive housecleaning that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, those Brooklyn Nets, a team so bad that draft pick could easily be a Top 5 player in a draft year projected to be top heavy with the likes of Marvin Bagley III and Mohamed Bamba among those the Cavaliers could take.

For one Kyrie Irving.

Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge seems to think Irving is worth it. "You want a high quality player you have to pay a high price," he said in one interview.

But is this a price that is too high?

Ainge has built a reputation as an executive who has generally managed talent very well in Boston and everywhere else he's been. How did Cleveland get him to give up so much for Irving?

Truth be told Irving and Thomas are certainly one of a type: score-first, clutch-shooting point guards who need the ball in their hands a lot, and both aren't exactly known for their defense. Irving in particular put up career numbers last season with over 25 ppg while shooting a little over 40% from three-range. He hit the title-clinching three in Game 7 of their historic resurrection from 1-3 down to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Yet his defensive metrics can charitably be described as "mediocre".

Thomas for his part went on a tear last season and might have made even more noise is the playoffs were it not for a hip injury.

For all his greatness, Thomas is still just 5-foot-9, and players that small tend not to last very long, playing at that level, in the league.

So it was the throw-ins that really made this a fleecing for Cleveland, fleecing the fleecer as it were.

And as fate would have it, or maybe it really was part of the plan, Cleveland and Boston take on each other on opening night this October 17.

I guess, Praxedes, we will find out right away who really fleeced who then, eh?
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