The Kyrie Irving trade for Isaiah Thomas is now official. The sides renegotiated the original offer after the former Celtic failed his physical in Cleveland on Aug. 25. In addition to Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Boston’s 2018 first-round pick, the Cavaliers also receive the Miami Heat’s 2020 second-round pick — arguably the least valuable asset that Boston could have parted with.
Thomas’ hip injury was known in advance of Cleveland accepting the deal, but the Cavs opinion of its severity changed. Thomas himself said the injury won’t be a long-term one, but Cleveland was able to use the margin of doubt to earn a more lucrative offer.
What even happened?
On Aug. 22, the Cavs and Celtics made a blockbuster trade involving the aforementioned players out of nowhere. Irving was known to be on the move, but the Celtics hadn’t come to the forefront as a likely suitor until mere hours before the deal was complete. Things were chaotic for 72 hours, then exploded when Thomas failed his physical in Cleveland. The trade was in danger of being voided.
What was Thomas’ injury again?
Thomas hurt his hip in a game in March when Karl Anthony-Towns landed on him. That caused him to miss the two next regular season games. He then tweaked it again in Game 6 of the conference semifinals against the Wizards, though he continued to play through it.
Thomas hurt himself again in Game 2 of the conference finals against the Cavs, running into a Kevin Love screen. He was shut down for the remainder of the playoffs.
He wasn’t required to have surgery during the offseason, and he and the team instead opted for a rehab process.
Here’s video of the injury:
Did both teams know about Thomas’ injury?
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge admitted that Thomas’ hip situation played at least “some” role in his decision to deal him. Ainge also said his hip might delay his start to the season, and Thomas hinted much of the same.
In every NBA trade call, health information for every player is given, “including any factors that could affect a player's ability to play basketball at any point in his career,” according to Larry Coon’s FAQ. So yes, the Cavs knew everything.
The Cavaliers initially weren’t worried at all about the injury, though, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This changed after Thomas flew in for his physical.
Did the Celtics get in trouble for Thomas’ inability to pass his physical?
Nope. The only damage was the extra asset Boston had to throw Cleveland’s way.
Was there any doubt this trade would eventually get done?
Not really. The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that the sides had planned in advance in case Thomas’ physical went poorly. Renegotiations were always in order. This trade became too real for either side to pull back on.
As it turned out, the Celtics wouldn’t budge and the Cavaliers couldn’t come out of the negotiations empty handed after drawing a line in the sand. A second-round pick that won’t be delivered for three years is a compromise for both sides.