The trade between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, headlined by Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving, seemingly came together in quick fashion Tuesday night. According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Cleveland expedited the process by abandoning its pursuit of Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum.
“The big discussion point with Boston and Cleveland over the past several weeks on a potential deal has always been about Jayson Tatum’s involvement,” Charania said on NBA TV (h/t Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin). “The Cavaliers coveted him greatly. I think if Tatum was involved the first day these talks transpired, this deal would have been done weeks ago.”
The Celtics announced Tuesday they acquired Irving for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.
At least initially, Tatum makes sense as one of the Cavaliers’ targets in their pursuit of an Irving trade. Tatum would have given Cleveland a building block for the future of the franchise. He averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and shot 34.2 percent from beyond the arc in his lone season with the Duke Blue Devils.
Likewise, Boston’s hesitancy in trading Tatum is understandable.
The Celtics could have held onto the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft and selected Markelle Fultz. Instead, general manager Danny Ainge flipped that pick for a future first-rounder and the third overall selection, which he used to get Tatum. Flipping Tatum so soon after that trade would’ve opened up Ainge to a lot of criticism.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman noted how Tatum is also part of a Celtics core that’s not only built for success now but in the long term as well:
Ultimately, both the Celtics and Cavaliers have reason to be happy with their haul from Tuesday’s deal.
Boston got an All-Star point guard who’s three years younger than Thomas and under contract for two more seasons—Thomas will be a free agent next summer.
Cleveland, meanwhile, ensured it remains a top contender to win the Eastern Conference by replacing Irving with another proven scorer in Thomas. Zizic and the Nets’ first-rounder also offer flexibility down the road should LeBron James leave or the team want to use the Nets’ pick to add another superstar.
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