BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the basketball world on Tuesday night, as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference pulled off a blockbuster swap.
The Celtics acquired Kyrie Irving for a hefty package centered around Isaiah Thomas and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick, as Danny Ainge finally cashed in on his plethora of assets to land a star. Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman jumped on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning to discuss the trade, and says Boston is a better team with Irving in the mix.
“One of the things that’s always impressed me the most about this Celtics management and Danny is they want to win right now. They don’t want to hear about the future; they want to win now and also want to win championships,” said Gorman. “They don’t want to get into the playoffs or consider a final four a good appearance. They want to win the whole thing, and the move to get Kyrie is basically ownership and Danny saying to fans ‘we’re going to try to win this thing now, get on board.'”
Gorman is sad to see Thomas go after such an incredible season from a player who quickly became the face of the franchise and turned Boston into an Eastern Conference contender. But it’s the cost of doing business, and the Celtics are now better set up for the future with Irving on the team.
“It’s a business and they all know it. They’re all making ridiculous amounts of money. I tweeted that I thought Isaiah had a season unlike any Celtics I had ever seen. I stand by that,” said Gorman. “No one faced the adversity Isaiah did and no one did it at 5-foot-9. To see the performances he put on after the tragedy in his family and the injuries he suffered, it was just a remarkable year for a remarkable player.
“That said, Isaiah has one year left on a contract, he’ll be 29 when it’s up and looking for max money. In exchange you get a 25-year-old player who has already shown he’s one of the best offensive players in the league, certainly Top 5 if not Top 3 or 4, and he’s got a very livable contact the next two-to-three years. That’s the window of opportunity the Celtics see is open to them right now,” added Gorman. “Right now, the Celtics are a better basketball than they were yesterday morning at this time.”
Time will tell if Irving is a true cornerstone of a championship team, and Gorman cautions that it will take time for these new Celtics (with only four players returning from last season’s 53-win team) to mesh. But with leaders like Al Horford, newcomer Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens on the bench, the Celtics will be in the mix when it matters most.
“It’s going to take 20-30 games for this team to get together as a team. They have an extended camp but only four preseason games, so they really don’t have a lot of time in the gym. Fans will have to be patient for the first 40 games; they may not be as good as advertised,” said Gorman. “But the last 40 and into the playoffs, this is a team that can seriously contend for an Eastern Conference championship and then you deal with Golden State.”
Gorman also discussed a few concerns with the blockbuster trade and Ainge’s other moves this summer, mainly who will play defense on the Celtics with Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder now elsewhere. Listen to the full podcast above.