Finally Finished: Cavs-Celtics Modify, Complete Big Trade

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) — The blockbuster trade, delayed and in jeopardy of dying, is done: Kyrie Irving is headed to the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas is coming to the Cavaliers and the NBA can take a well-earned, late-summer break.

For a minute.

Concerned with medical findings after looking at Thomas’ injured right hip, the Cavs have negotiated another draft pick from Boston to compete the mega-deal that stalled, the teams announced in a joint statement early Thursday.

The teams modified the original deal and Cleveland will also get a second-round pick in 2020 from the Celtics, a pick it acquired from Miami.

“The trade is now complete,” the teams said in their statement.

After days of uncertainty, both sides can move forward toward a 2017 season that will start with the Cavs hosting the Celtics on Oct. 17.

The teams had a deadline of 10 a.m. Thursday to agree on the trade, which was prompted by Irving demanded to be dealt in July. New Cavs general manager Koby Altman pulled it off by sending the team’s second-best player to the Celtics for Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and an unconditional first-round pick next year.

The Cavs had balked at pushing the Aug. 22 trade through last week after Thomas underwent a physical. He tore a labrum last season in the playoffs against Cleveland, and it’s possible he might not be ready for the start of the season.

On Tuesday, Thomas told ESPN he is “not damaged” and believes he will return to All-Star form.

“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas said. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”

Thomas decided not to have surgery and has been rehabbing his hip this summer.

After the teams finalize the deal with the league, the Cavs are expected to formally announce a trade that officially ends Irving’s star-crossed tenure in Cleveland.

The former No. 1 overall pick grew into one of the NBA’s biggest stars with the Cavs, and he’ll always be remembered for making the go-ahead 3-pointer over Golden State’s Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when Cleveland won the title — the city’s first major pro sports championship since 1964.

But while he was adored by Cleveland fans, Irving struggled playing in the shadow of LeBron James, and shortly after the Cavs were beaten in this year’s Finals by the Warriors, a disgruntled Irving demanded a trade.

He’s joining a Boston team that has been chasing Cleveland in recent years, and he’ll play alongside Gordon Hayward, signed as a free agent by the Celtics this summer.
Thomas’ future is not as certain. The 5-foot-8 playmaker was beloved in Boston, but he’ll have to share the stage in Cleveland in a supporting role to James. Thomas is in the final year of his contract and could end up sharing playing time with newly signed Cavs guard Derrick Rose.

And, of course, there’s always drama surrounding James, who will try to make his eighth straight Finals before possibly opting out of his contract next summer and hitting the free-agent market again.

If he leaves, the Cavs have the first-round pick — maybe even the top pick overall — they got from Boston to help them rebuild.
But that’s next summer. For the moment, this chaotic one has finally calmed down.
___
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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