When the Cavs traded for Isaiah Thomas last week they knew he wasn’t the same Isaiah Thomas. He had hip surgery in the offseason. Hip surgeries can be iffy, can go north or south, limiting mobility down the line. Danny Ainge acknowledged that part of the reason he was willing to give up Isaiah, the Celtics leading 4th quarter scorer in 2016-17, was because of said hip, meaning even Ainge wasn’t sure what condition Isaiah’s hip would be in during training camp.
Ainge commenting on the hip legitimized a strategy for Cleveland regardless of what the Cavs saw on the imaging films of the most scrutinized hip in the midwest. Now the Cavs had leverage to ask for even more. As if they didn’t get enough of a haul. They may be able to add ( in their fantasies) Jaylen Brown to the mix or Jayson Tatum.
The Cavs are threatening to call the deal off. It is a punch in the gut to Danny Ainge and the Celtics. Ainge, it appears, is behind the eight ball, at Cleveland’s mercy.
Or he plays hardball. And makes Cleveland show it’s cojones. Do they have any?
There is a point of view that the Cavs are just trying to game the system. Meaning Isiah’s hip has given the Cavs a window of trying to talk the Celtics down. Get more. Be greedy. Take advantage. Punk them. Make them cry. And doing it with a rookie GM and Dan Gilbert pulling the strings.
The Cavs already have the Nets first round pick which probably will be a top-3 pick so why do they want even more? Because they want to see how badly Ainge wants Kyrie Irving. Does he want him bad enough to cover his eyes and then throw players at Cleveland?
The Cavs are threatening to veto the trade as if they are not the weak party here. They have the player that has decided he can’t be in Cleveland anymore. They have to get a lot of steak and not much chicken in the deal because- scream if you’ve heard this before- LeBron is eyeing exit number 2. The Cavs need young talent capable of making an All-Star team. They need the Celtics more than the Celtics need them and that is what this is all about. Who needs whom more.
If the Cavs veto the trade- a threat that pretty much has zero chance of happening- they get their unhappy player back. I.T. returns to the Celtics and it’s business as usual, even if Isaiah’s hip is taking a lot longer to heal. But it is the Cavs who have the greater burden. They have to figure out who, what, where for Kyrie. How do they make this work with a bitter Irving who has burned bridges? Here and then gone. Now here. Take the Phoenix trade perhaps? Eric Bledsoe. Josh Jackson. Some spare parts. That won’t land them the possible number one pick.
This isn’t negotiating as much as it is extortion lite. The deal has to be consummated by Thursday. All the players involved in the trade, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Kyrie Irving, have to have their physicals completed by Wednesday. But if both teams so choose, because they are still trying to save this sinking ship from more holes, the deadline can be extended.
The Celtics aren’t buying the you didn’t tell us everything about Thomas’ hip. It’s a tired excuse. The Cavs are coming across as a team trying to leverage and get more when they don’t have much to bargain with. Furthermore, the Nets pick was thrown in as insurance for an Isaiah that might not be ready at the beginning of the season. The Cavs have Derrick Rose to plug up the holes and leaking water until I.T. is 100%.
But I.T. may be going back where he came and if that happens Cleveland will look incompetent, greedy, stupid and the blind leading the blind. With Dan Gilbert, anything is possible; he has taught us over the years trusting him is fools gold.
photo via llananba