If Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals turns out to be Kyrie Irving's last game in the city of Cleveland playing for the Cavaliers -- after LeBron James' return, you can't really rule anything out, after all -- it will be a tantalizing reminder of just what the Cleveland Cavaliers said goodbye to when they traded him to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. With the Golden State Warriors up 3-0 in the series and lusting for a sweep, Irving was spectacular, dropping 40 points in 41 minutes, hitting 7-for-12 from deep, adding seven rebounds and four assists, and thoroughly outplaying back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry, who went 4-for-13 from the field while totaling just 14 points. It is that Irving -- the free-wheeling, dizzy-dribbling, sharp-shooting, skilled supernova of a talent -- the franchise couldn't shake as it went through the process of trying to trade the 25-year-old it saw grow into a budding superstar since it drafted him as a teenager with the No. 1 pick back in 2011. The deal settled upon, nearly a month to the day since Koby Altman was named the team's general manager, satisfied Cleveland's short- and long-term goals of staying a championship contender in the now while saving for a rainy day in the future that could come pouring down in the summer of 2018 should James leave as a free agent. Out goes Irving and in comes Isaiah Thomas -- three years older and six inches shorter than Irving, to be sure. Yet, Thomas is coming off his finest season as a pro, in which he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists on 37.9 percent shooting from 3-point territory (all in line with Irving's averages) while attempting nearly twice as many free throws per game than the guy picked 59 slots ahead of him back in 2011 (8.5 for Thomas; 4.6 for Irving). Along with him there's Jae Crowder, a rugged 6-foot-6, 235-pound wing unafraid of mixing it up (anyone remember his 2014 playoff series against the Cavs?) while still providing a dimension on the offensive end (he shot 39.8 percent on 3s during the regular season last season). As James faced the prospect of entering into Year No. 15 of his illustrious career next season with the 37-year-old Richard Jefferson and the steadily declining Jeff Green as his primary backups, Crowder's addition cannot be overlooked.
Irving told Cavs he was unwilling to report to training camp
ESPN | Aug 23