No Major Futures Odds Shift in Wake of Kyrie Irving Trade to Celtics

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics completed a stunning trade involving All-Star guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas. Yet the various sportsbooks didn’t react quite like one might think.

In the modern-day NBA, it’s incredibly rare to see one star traded for another. Nowadays, the team with the star generally wants young players and draft picks back because if it’s trading said star it means the club is about to rebuild. Think of this offseason when the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota or Indiana sent Paul George to Oklahoma City. Neither the Bulls nor Pacers received anything close to a star in return for their best player. Ditto the Clippers when they shipped out Chris Paul to Houston.

That’s what made Tuesday night’s stunning trade between the Eastern Conference’s two best teams, Cleveland and Boston, so unlikely. The Cavs shipped All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, small forward Jae Crowder, young center prospect Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first-round pick. This is the first time in NBA history a pair of 25 point per game scorers were traded for each other the following season.

How did SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks react to this move? Not in a huge way. The Warriors remain heavy -185 favorites at BetOnline to win another NBA title. Cleveland’s odds got slightly longer at +500 and Boston’s a bit shorter at +600. To win the East, the Cavs are -140 and Celtics +175. About the same.

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So why did this trade happen between rivals? Irving, who averaged 25.2 ppg last year, months ago had requested a trade, saying he wanted to be out of LeBron James’ shadow and be the “man.” Irving, 25, has three years and $60 million left on his contract, but he can opt out of the final year before the 2019-20 season. Great player. Yet, I believe that the Cavaliers won this deal as long as Thomas is healthy.

Thomas, 28, led the Celtics to the best record in the East last season, averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists over 33.8 minutes per game. Two concerns regarding him: Thomas suffered a torn hip labrum in the East Finals that caused him to miss the final three games vs. Cleveland; and Thomas is a free agent after this season and expects a max contract.

But one could argue that Irving/Thomas is an offensive wash just for 2017-18 – both stink defensively. Crowder is one of the most underrated players in the NBA on a terrific contract. He’s a fine defensive player (can guard Kevin Durant in a potential NBA Finals matchup to save LeBron some wear-and-tear) and solid 3-point shooter. The Cavs just got deeper. Zizic is a nice prospect, but the real key of this trade could be that Nets’ pick, which might be No. 1 overall in the stacked 2018 draft. So Cleveland not only addressed next season, which could be LeBron’s last there, but also a potential post-LeBron era.

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That's the only way to be to the kid! Special talent/guy! Nothing but respect and what a ride it was our 3 years together Young Gode #Filayy

— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 23, 2017

Now the Celtics move forward with a core of Irving, new addition Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and young players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Plus, the C’s still potentially have the Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick and that could be better than Brooklyn’s.  Boston now has just four players on its roster from last season's team: Horford, Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Rare you see a 53-win team undergo such a makeover.

By the way, six players who were selected as All-Stars in the 2016-17 season have switched teams this summer, the most ever in one NBA offseason: Butler, George, Hayward (Utah to Boston), Irving, Thomas and Paul Millsap (Atlanta to Denver). Paul wasn't an All-Star due to injury. Now that Irving has been dealt, expect the Carmelo Anthony situation to be resolved soon with the Knicks sending him somewhere. Melo would make seven All-Stars moving.

Let the countdown begin to opening night of the 2017-18 season: Boston at Cleveland on Oct. 17. That is the only time that the Celtics visit Ohio in the regular season.

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