Aucoin: Celtics clear winners in Kyrie-IT trade

Danny Ainge, you did it again.

Celtics fans waited on pins and needles over the past few years to see when their general manager would finally cash in his chips and make the big move.

When would Boston get the next superstar to help them reach the levels of the late 2000's Big Three or even the heyday of those Bird or Russell teams? Would the Brooklyn pick just become an antiquated empty term used by armchair general managers calling into sports radio with their own way of taking the team to the next level?

In late August, Ainge finally showed his hand making the move to acquire Kyrie Irving from the rival Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 draft pick the Celtics acquired from the Nets back in 2013.

On paper it looked like this trade could help both teams. The Celtics got a superstar to build around and Cleveland got rid of a disgruntled player and got a nice package back in return.

Fast forward a half-season, I think it's safe to say Boston won this deal.

Looking at just the records, the Celtics do have the advantage thus far, but that hasn't even been the deciding factor in what makes them the winner here.

With the trade, the Celtics have set themselves up for the future, while also aiding the present.

By trading away Thomas and replacing Irving, the Celtics have made a significant upgrade. You're getting a player in Irving who is three years younger and more talented across the board.

Thomas, while being a supremely talented scorer, cannot facilitate and make his team better like Irving can. This isn't to take anything away from Thomas. He is one of the best scorers the game has. It's other things such as defense and passing ability where he falls behind Irving.

He is also a free agent at the end of this season and the question begged if the Celtics were willing to commit to the 5-foot-9 guard long term with a max contract.

In the end, the Celtics made the shrewd move and acquired a guy with multiple years of team control left and a player who figures to age much better than the smaller Thomas.

Irving has shown himself to be a Most Valuable Player candidate in his time so far in Boston, and although he probably won't take that crown home, it shows the impact he can have as the lead dog of the team.

Looking past the two stars of the deal, moving on from Crowder was something the Celtics had to do. Bringing in Gordan Hayward over the offseason and drafting Jayson Tatum made Crowder expendable.

If Boston had kept him on board, you're looking at possibly stunting the development of Tatum. As we've seen early on, Tatum, when given time to play, is a special talent that should be a major part of the Celtics future.

Crowder, while steady for the Cavs, has been well eclipsed by the impact that Tatum has had on Boston. What role Tatum falls into once Hayward returns from injury is still to be seen, but as of now, his difference has been huge.

The Brooklyn pick really shouldn't be much of a concern either. If the draft were today, that pick would fall in the six to 10 range, not the top three most people predicted.

While the Nets surely aren't world-beaters out on the court, they seem to be much more competitive thus far than some of the lowly teams like the Hawks and Kings, among others.

Instead of drafting the likes of a can't-miss prospect like DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter, the Cavs might be looking at a slightly lower level prospect. This is not say that their draft pick won't be high, because it probably will, but a top three pick might be pushing it.

Cleveland's current dissension could be the final swing of the pendulum that gives Boston the advantage here.

From Kevin Love being called out by his teammates to Thomas talking about the days of old with the Celtics, where defense was much more an emphasis, the cracks are quite visible in Cleveland.

Granted, the best player of this generation in LeBron James still suits up in that locker room, but who knows how long that will remain the case.

All the signs are incredibly clear.

That highly publicized trade of this past summer is a win for the Celtics now and in the future.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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