NBA outlook: Cavs, Celtics best in East
As star after star migrated from the Eastern Conference to the West this summer, the lesser of the NBA’s divisions got so watered down that some spice was badly needed. Kyrie Irving delivered. The mercurial guard stunned the rest of the league by requesting a trade away from LeBron James and the Cavaliers and the annual trip to the NBA Finals that comes with James. In subsequent interviews since he was traded to the Celtics, Irving has done little to smooth things over with the game’s best player or the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011.
“It’s just really between two men,” Irving said last month when asked if he planned to reach out to James to clear the air. “If it happens or not, I’m pretty sure you guys won’t know about it.”
James didn’t hide his disappointment in Irving’s decision after teaming with him to go to the last three finals and win a championship two years ago.
“I tried to give him everything and give him as much of the DNA as I could,” he said. “At some point, when he was ready to take over the keys, I was ready to give them to him. So, the only thing I’m upset about is he took a lot of the DNA and a lot of the blueprint to Boston.”
James wasn’t the only one upset by the deal.
Isaiah Thomas was deeply wounded by Boston’s decision to trade him after an emotional and dominant season, setting the stage for a tense fight for conference supremacy.
“It definitely caught me off guard, but it also woke me up,” Thomas said. “It made me realize that this is a business and anybody other than probably LeBron James or Kevin Durant or those type of guys can be traded.”
This level of drama and intrigue is needed in a conference that lost Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague over the summer.