How did those on the Cavaliers view the infamous trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics?
According to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd, their blunt thoughts on the deal came out following an ugly regular-season loss featuring some ineffective contributions from the players obtained in the Irving-to-Boston deal late last summer.
“The toxicity level was so high at one point during this season in Hiroshima that one Cavs player turned and looked at me after one of many particularly ugly winter losses. ‘Danny Ainge is a [expletive] thief,’ he said. No explanation needed,” Lloyd wrote in a 46-point postgame column following Cleveland’s Game 2 loss at TD Garden.
It’s a strong take from a teammate, but an expected one given what your eyes told you, as the ill-fitting Thomas averaged just 14.7 points per game and shot 36.1 percent (including a career-worst 25.3 percent from behind the arc) in Cleveland
It’s just the tip of the iceberg that allows you an inside look at just how terrible this Irving trade has been for the Cavs.
Receiving point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick from the Celtics in exchange for the 25-year-old Irving, the fits in Cleveland were poor from the start.
With a bad hip and a worse attitude in Cleveland, those aforementioned stats only confirmed that the 5-foot-9 Thomas never rediscovered the play that made him a legitimate MVP candidate last season before he was ultimately traded to the Lakers.
Crowder was not the roleplayer whose antagonist demeanor and pesky defense gave Cleveland the boost it did in Boston. He also found himself moved at the deadline, as he was shifted to Utah, where he’s thrived in a role that’s entirely more him.
Zizic, meanwhile, appeared in just 32 games for the Cavs this year, averaging 3.7 points and 6:42 of action per game, and has played a total of 10 and a half minutes in three postseason appearances this spring.
In addition to the 21-year-old Zizic, though, the returns on the Thomas and Crowder trades mean that the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and one-time Jazz standout Rodney Hood are among those included in the Irving return. Clarkson’s feet never touched the court in Game 2 (coach’s decision, his first such did not play in The Land), Nance Jr. does not have a point in over 15 minutes of action in this series, and Hood has the worst plus-minus in the entire playoffs.
The aforementioned Brooklyn pick was also revealed to be the No. 8 overall pick in June’s upcoming draft as a result of last night’s Draft Lottery, which saw the Cavs come within one number of sneaking into the top three. Because of course.
To be honest, maybe ‘effing thief’ is selling it short.