By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Dan Gilbert stomped his feet and apparently got what he wanted: a second-round pick from the Boston Celtics.
Yes, while some reports speculated that the Cavaliers’ owner perhaps wanted either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown (both No. 3 overall selections) or perhaps the 2018 first-round pick that could be between No. 2 and No. 5 next year, ultimately all it took to complete the famed Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade was a measly second-round pick.
All of that … for a second-round pick?
That is, apparently, the case, as Kevin O’Connor explained in great detail how Gilbert got his hands all over this deal and how the Cavs owner panicked when the trade was not considered a landslide win for his team.
“Multiple sources with knowledge of Gilbert’s mind-set believe the Cavs owner cares deeply about how the deal will be seen today and in the future, both internally and across the league — Thomas’s health and a less enthusiastic [LeBron] James and [Tyronn] Lue had Gilbert shook,” O’Connor wrote.
So, Gilbert played hardball with the Celtics, and Danny Ainge essentially called their bluff. A second-round pick (from Miami in 2020) is just about the least valuable asset Ainge has in his war chest.
And considering we now know what it took to get this deal officially completed, let’s take a look back at all of the second-round picks made by the Cavaliers since Gilbert took over the team in 2005 — a 12-year period in which he’s employed four different general managers. Here’s the caliber of player we’re talking here:
Daniel Gibson (42nd overall)
Ejike Ugboaja (55th)
Danny Green (46th)
Justin Harper (32nd)
Milan Macvan (54th)
Bernard James (33rd)
Jae Crowder (34th)
Allen Crabbe (31st)
Carrick Felix (34th)
Joe Harris (33rd)
Sir’Dominic Pointer (53rd)
Danny Green is the obvious major outlier, with Jae Crowder not far behind. Green has been a starter for the Spurs for six years, while Crowder (a somewhat significant part of this current trade headlined by Irving and Thomas) has been a starter for three seasons in Boston. Yet it’s noteworthy that the Cavs traded Crowder (along with Bernard James) on draft night for Tyler Zeller and Kelenna Azubuike, while the Cavs gave up on Green after just one season and let him walk to San Antonio while getting nothing in return.
Booby Gibson would represent the next-best of the lot, as he played 397 games (starting 77) for Cleveland. Crabbe started 24 games and played in 224, though none were with Cleveland. Harris played in 108 NBA games, starting 12 times, though just 56 of those games were with the Cavs.
Harper played just 22 NBA games, while Felix played seven. Macvan and Ugboaja never played in the league, and Pointer has yet to make the NBA.
So yes, technically, there remains a chance that the Cavs hit the lottery with a lucky pick in the second round in 2020. After all, Isaiah Thomas was the 60th overall pick himself. But more realistically, the Cavs will draft a player with a ceiling of being an NBA journeyman … if he’s fortunate.
In threatening to renege on an agreed-upon deal in order to try to fleece a trading partner of more assets over medical information which had been known prior to the commencement of the trade, Gilbert definitely ensured that this deal will be remembered across the league. It’s just not for the reasons he might have liked. And that’s to say nothing of the relationship with Isiah Thomas that he’ll already need to mend before Thomas even rolls in with a U-Haul.
One has to wonder, considering the “extra” return for Cleveland is so small, if raising such a stink was worth it for Gilbert.