The Cleveland Cavaliers have been incredibly successful over the last three seasons. They have a championship, three straight finals appearances, and are a virtual lock to make it to the finals again this year. Their offseason, however, has been tumultuous and their narrative ever-changing. LeBron’s free agency is looming, and for a while, it looked as if the Cavs had resigned to the fact that they would be saying goodbye to the best player in the world. They fired David Griffin, stars they pursued went elsewhere and when Kyrie Irving announced that he no longer wanted to be a Cavalier it looked as if everything in Cleveland was crumbling. Irving’s trade request may have appeared to be almost apocalyptic. A move that would bring Cleveland to its knees, guarantee a LeBron exit and doom the team to many years of insignificance. In truth, it was the trade request that saved them.
The Cavs were handcuffed financially. To find a game-changer, they would have to trade one of the big three. In other words, they would have to trade Love. The fact that Love willingly took a back seat and embraced his role as the third option certainly helped the team, but it also had a significant impact on his stats and by proxy his potential trade value. Since Kyrie was the devoted son and LeBron the prodigal one, Kevin Love, through no fault of his own, was the disposable one. That is until Kyrie asked for a trade. The announcement of his request was as surprising as the value the new GM managed to get in return for his dynamic, unhappy point guard. Somehow he got Boston to part with Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two picks, one of them the highly coveted first rounder belonging to Brooklyn.
Isiah Thomas plays virtually the same style of basketball as Kyrie Irving so the drop in production at the point will be minimal and to some extent may even improve. Jae Crowder is the player Cavaliers have been looking for all along, a two-way hard worker capable of defending several positions who will bolster their defense and allow LeBron James to take a breath, on some nights maybe even two. He also just happens to have one of the best contracts in the NBA. Ante Zizic, the talented young center from Croatia has a lot of potential, and he provides Cleveland with an injection of youth they desperately need. Finally, there is the Brooklyn pick. Projected to be in the top three it ensures that Cleveland has a chance to get a building block for the future without sacrificing the present. They may also choose to trade the pick, though that seems unlikely. Suddenly, for the Cavs, things aren’t just looking up, they are looking great. When you add the bargain bin contracts, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Jeff Green signed, what you have is a team that is not only contending but has a legitimate chance to go all the way.
Instead of burning his Jersey fans should thank Kyrie for all the years he spent in Cleveland and bow down to him for deciding to leave. With Kyrie, the Cavs were, at best, second best. With Kyrie gone, their best just got a whole lot better.