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Cavs send Irving to Celtics for package that includes Isaiah Thomas

By MARLA RIDENOUR • Aug 22, 2017 at 11:33 PM

 

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers reached agreement to trade disgruntled point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in a package headlined by point guard Isaiah Thomas, according to a league source.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been announced, the Celtics will send Thomas, small forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round pick to the Cavs for four-time All-Star Irving, who asked the Cavs to be traded on July 7. Irving reportedly will waive his trade kicker to complete the deal.

Irving told Cavs owner Dan Gilbert last month he wanted to get out from the shadow of four-time league Most Valuable Player LeBron James and find a team where he could be the focal point. Irving, 25, cannot become a free agent for two more seasons and his contract includes a player option for 2019-20.

That made him desirable to the Celtics, who are stocked with draft picks and seeking to end the Cavs' streak of three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. The Cavs are trying to build a team capable of winning another title before James can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer.

The top-seeded Celtics were eliminated by the Cavs in five games in the Eastern Conference finals last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs the previous two years to the Atlanta Hawks (2016) and Cavs (2015).

Thomas, 28, a two-time All-Star and 2017 All-NBA selection, has one season left on his contract for $6.26 million. Last season he averaged 28.9 points and shot 46.3 percent from the field, both career-highs, while contributing 2.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He shot 37.9 percent from 3-point range.

For his career, Thomas, 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, carries averages of 19.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. A fan favorite, Thomas scored 33 points in the Celtics playoff opener against the Chicago Bulls in April, one day after the death of his 22-year-old sister Chyna in a car crash.

Crowder, 27, 6-6 and 235 pounds, was drafted 34th overall by the Cavs in 2012 but traded to the Dallas Mavericks the next day. Last season, Crowder posted career-highs in rebounds (5.8), assists (2.2), field-goal percentage (46.3) and 3-point percentage (39.8) while averaging 13.9 points, second-best of his six seasons.

Zizic, 6-11 and 250, was the Celtics' 23rd overall pick in the 2016 draft, but the 20-year-old Croatian did not play as a rookie.

As new Cavs general manager Koby Altman listened to offers for Irving, he was also mindful of a future without James. That prompted his search for a team willing to surrender a first-round pick for Irving, who averaged career-highs in points (25.2) and field-goal percentage (.473) last season. He hit .401 from 3-point range, second-best in his six years, and his 5.8 assists average was his third-best mark. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first player to average at least 25 points and five assists and not lead his team in either category as James posted 26.4 points and 8.7 assists.

For his career, Irving carries averages of 21.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, shooting .457 from the field and .383 from 3-point range. In 52 playoff games, Irving has averaged 23.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists, hitting .465 from the field and .415 from long range.

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(c)2017 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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