Boston Celtics

Blakely: Celtics pull off another steal in getting Kyrie Irving from Cavs

Blakely: Celtics pull off another steal in getting Kyrie Irving from Cavs

BOSTON -- Amazing.

Getting Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers without giving up prized rookie Jayson Tatum -- the one player that besides Isaiah Thomas or Jaylen Brown who seems poised for a breakout season -- is as impressive a deal as the heist trade Boston pulled off with Brooklyn in 2013.

In addition to Thomas, the Celtics also sent Cleveland Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 Brooklyn first-round pick that’s unprotected.

The gap that existed between Boston and Cleveland has gotten a bit tighter. But more important to the Celtics?

That gap will be non-existent a year from now.


That’s when LeBron James will likely take his talents out West while the Celtics will have a core of Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford with a second wave of talent on the rise that includes Tatum and Brown.

That core, along with the young players behind them, gives the Celtics the kind of squad that stands eye-to-eye with Cleveland now and will soon blow past the Cavs and set its sights on the team everyone is chasing, the Golden State Warriors.

And that’s why for Boston, this deal will go down as one of the great trades in franchise history.

In trading Thomas for Irving, Boston got bigger and younger . . . and did it without sacrificing the present or the future.

Re-signing Thomas was going to be a priority for the Celtics this summer, but they knew it was going to be costly with Thomas, an unrestricted free agent next summer, likely in line for a deal similar to the one Toronto gave Kyle Lowry (three years, $100 million).

Meanwhile, Boston has Irving under contract for the next two years earning $18.9 and $20.1 million, respectively and would not have made the trade if they didn’t get a strong sense that they would be able to re-sign him. So that will create a two-year (or more) window for Boston to compete for Eastern Conference supremacy. And beyond that, makes them a legit title contender sooner rather than later.

Cleveland had little choice but to move on from Irving, who had demanded a trade on July 21.

Boston immediately moved near the front of the line due to its ability to offer an All-Star (Thomas), young talent (Brown orCrowder), a potential impact rookie ( Tatum) in addition to quality draft picks. was told that the Cavs were not willing to talk about a trade with the Celtics a couple weeks ago unless Tatum was involved. However, they struck out on getting a deal done with any team out West and later returned to the negotiating table to talk with Boston.

Knowing the Cavs had failed to get a deal done out West, Boston maintained its initial stance that Tatum was off-limits.

And while the pick in next year’s draft from Brooklyn has the potential to be the number one overall pick, the Celtics also have a first-round pick coming from the Los Angeles Lakers who may also be in the running for the top overall pick in next year’s big man-heavy draft.

No matter how you look at it, the Celtics have achieved what so few teams are able to do -- build for the future while strengthening their current position, which is one that has Boston firmly entrenched as one of the league’s top teams.


30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow


30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The New Orleans Pelicans. 

Anthony Davis has waited patiently for the New Orleans Pelicans to assemble a cast around him that could be competitive in the West.
Still waiting...
The Pelicans have more big-name players on their roster this season, but those players, by and large, are well past their primes. And that will likely result in yet another playoff-less season.

New Orleans’ best hopes of bucking the odds and become a competitive, playoff-caliber team will hinge on how a couple of former Celtics perform.
Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, both members of Boston’s 2008 championship team, will be looked upon to provide solid play as well as veteran leadership.
Rondo, now 31, a four-time All-Star, was in and out of the Chicago Bulls lineup last season before emerging in the playoffs with a pair of strong performances against the Celtics, which put Boston in a 2-0 series hole despite the first two games being at the TD Garden.
However, the point guard broke his right hand in Game 2 and was unable to return, which proved to be a major turning point as Boston went on to win the series in six games.
In Allen, the Pelicans add one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. And while he is 35, he doesn’t come with the kind of wear and tear you typically associate with a player his age.
That’s because Allen has not ever been a player to log major minutes. This past season in Memphis, Allen averaged a career-high 27.0 minutes per game.
Despite playing limited minutes, it still didn’t keep him from being recognized for his defense, which has led to him being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, six times (first team in 2012, 2013 and 2015; and second team in 2011, 2016 and 2017).
Those veterans will be important, but the key to making this work for New Orleans lies in how well Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh.
Acquired just before the trade deadline in February, the Pelicans were just 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup and 4-4 when he did not play.
However, that came on the fly, which is why there’s optimism in New Orleans that Davis and Cousins will work together even better with a training camp under their belts.
Ultimately, the Pelicans have to field a team that can be competitive, if for no other reason than to appease Davis.

While Davis has shown no signs of wanting to play elsewhere, you have to wonder just how much patience will he have with a New Orleans team that has made just one playoff appearance in his five NBA seasons.
Of the other 13 lottery picks from his draft, only one (Kendall Marshall) has made fewer playoff appearances.
Anything short of a playoff appearance will only lead to more questions about Davis being traded.
"I understand it's a business, but if I don't hear anything from Dell [Demps, the Pelicans general manager] or my agent, I don't pay attention to it," Davis told reporters this summer, regarding the rumors about being traded to Boston. "Once I first heard [the rumors], then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn't [true], and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven't paid attention to it since."
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tony Allen (Memphis); Rajon Rondo (Chicago); Ian Clark (Golden State).
Key losses: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento); Tim Frazier (Washington); Terrence Jones (Qingdao Doublestar of Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit);
Rookies of note:
31-51 (fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the West).