Kyrie Irving Isaiah Thomas: Boston’s biggest win was staying young

At this point, people have hopefully caught their breath and have replaced everything that fell off the shelves after the blockbuster trade between the Cavs and the Celtics shook the world. Any time a trade occurs, fans, analysts, and players themselves want to figure out who won or lost the trade before these players even get to update their hometown on Facebook. With big time names like Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, that need to decide a winner and a loser is exponentially greater. We won’t know who got the better end of the deal until these teams face off in the inevitable clash in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the biggest victory is Boston being able to stay young.

For those were too busy looking into the sun during the solar eclipse to read their Twitter notifications from Sham and Woj, we had the biggest bomb drop of this entire offseason.

As there are with many trades, there are some questions and things to sort out following this kind of monumental swap of talent that can change the way the Eastern Conference shapes out over the next few years. Will the arrival of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder be enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland? Will the Nets’ pick keep the Cavs relevant no matter which city LeBron claims as his new kingdom? What number will Kyrie Irving be considering the Celtics have a thousand numbers retired?

Some questions won’t be answered for a considerable amount of time, but one thing we do know is Boston is now set up to be good for a long, long time.

This deal wasn’t about the Celtics moving past Cleveland this year. As long as LeBron James is healthy, breathing and wearing a Cavs jersey next season, they have the advantage. Moving Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas helps them in the future. It allows Boston to extend their competitive window by bringing in an extremely similar player to replace IT. In fact, you can’t really get closer with these stats without cloning one or the other.

The difference is in the age. Kyrie Irving is a full three years younger than Thomas and is steamrolling right into his prime. The King in the Fourth may have had a better regular season a year ago, but the safe money is to invest in a 25-year old who’s going to increase his usage in Boston. It’s not just about Kyrie taking people’s ankles and wearing them around his neck like some sort of possessed war lord. It’s about getting younger to push this current window open as far as it can possibly go.

Nobody with a pair of eyes and any sort of understanding of what Isaiah Thomas did for the Celtics last season will argue that he isn’t a good player, except those stupid enough to burn his jersey following the trade. The problem with Thomas in Boston wasn’t his fit in the offense, his health, or even his inability to play defense considering he could fit in the pockets of some of the players he ended up guarding. The biggest problem was that he gave the Celtics two different timelines; one built to win now, and one built to win in the future.

Having Thomas to go along with the young core of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum doesn’t fit. Next offseason, IT will be a 29-year-old guard with a hip injury that has lingered for years looking for a max contract. Having Thomas earn max money four or five years down the road when Brown and Tatum are hitting their prime doesn’t work.

It hurts the team’s chances to win in the future when the Warriors have hopefully stopped curb stomping every team to death and LeBron’s reign is long over. Bringing in Kyrie Irving bridges the gap between winning now and winning down the road, giving Boston the best chance to succeed in the future.

While Kyrie does help give the Celtics a title shot for the foreseeable future, none of this would’ve made any sense if the Celtics parted with either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, something Boston was completely aware of.

Both Tatum and Brown are viewed as untouchables, which reasonably doesn’t make sense to some. Tatum has yet to play a single minute in the NBA and Brown has shown signs of greatness, but that’s it. What’s special about both of these players is their ability to contribute right now. Both have NBA-ready bodies and possess the tools to slip seamlessly into the lineup to help this team compete for a conference title. Now that there’s a bit more breathing room on the roster, both will have the chance to play big time minutes without having their growth stunted behind Jae Crowder, a player who was viewed as someone who could help them win now.

Some may argue that the Celtics didn’t totally keep their youth in this deal, which is true. Ante Zizic is a former first round draft pick and has a polished game that will help the Cavs immediately off the bench. What is leaps and bounds more important is the Nets’ draft pick, the last left from the ransacking that occurred during the trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

In theory, this year’s draft class is extremely top heavy and the Nets’ pick could end up becoming a franchise changing player. The only difference is what we know, and what we assume. We already know what Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are. They’re extremely talented freaks of nature who are already showing skills that should have the rest of the league absolutely petrified if they continue to develop.

A potential stud of a prospect on a roster is worth two in the bush. That’s not how the saying goes at all, but it’s based on the belief that Boston knows exactly what they’re getting in these players, and they believe they have the coach in place who is going to get the most out of them. Another thing these two possible home run draft picks have shown is that the other Nets pick is expendable. Yes, it could end up being a star, but this team has already struggled to find room for all of these prospects in the past.

Yes, it could end up being a star, but this team has already struggled to find room for all of these prospects in the past. Pairing these two stars, plus either the Lakers’ 2-6 protected pick this season or Sacramento’s’ pick next season clogs the team even more than previous years. Of course you’d rather have the prospect of another star as well, but already having two guys in place to presumably carry the load in the future helps ease the pain of parting with the pick

Last season, everyone enjoyed the Celtics’ success, but never ever considered them a contender for even a second, and reasonably so. This trade doesn’t make them truly a contender either- at least not yet. Adding a player in their prime while keeping the core of the future gives this team what the Thunder should have had years ago with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. It gives them a window that isn’t opened easily these days. The window of a possible dynasty.

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