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The Cleveland Cavaliers have struck a blockbuster deal to send All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving out of town, as he requested, and in turn, have brought back plenty of help for LeBron James. While the Cavaliers and Boston Celtics swapped point guards, sending Irving one direction and Isaiah Thomas the other, Cleveland also netted another big name and a huge asset in the haul as well.
As ESPN’s Jeff Goodman broke down, the Celtics are also sending Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round draft pick to the Cavaliers.
There’s no question that this is a monster trade that will shake things up for both teams, and it certainly makes the Cavaliers a stronger group across the board by adding depth as well as a huge draft pick next year. But the question is, how will this impact James’ future with the franchise?
The rumors have been coming from every direction that James is on his way out of Cleveland after this season. They’ve come so hot and heavy that most recently Chris Sheridan reported that an NBA source stated that the superstar is “100 percent leaving” the Cavaliers.
While the odds likely still point to James remaining with the Cavaliers in 2018, it’s hard to envision that this trade has done a whole lot in terms of convincing him to stay in town.
Impact on Trade for LeBron James’ Future
Thomas is certainly an All-Star caliber player, while Crowder will add some nice depth the roster. But, there’s one thing that really jumps out about this trade that may actually hurt Cleveland’s chances of retaining James. This would be the fact that Thomas is set to become a free agent after this season, per Spotrac, and is almost certainly going to demand a massive payday.
If James were to watch Thomas leave, it could potentially just be another thing that goes toward pushing him out of the door.
While the fact that the Cavaliers could be getting a top pick in the 2018 NBA draft is a nice selling point, it seems to point more toward a potential rebuild than toward the team having immediate success. If James were to stay in Cleveland with just Kevin Love, Crowder, and that first-round pick, then they would surely be contenders. But, James’ known interest in potentially going to Los Angeles may be more outweigh what the Cavaliers would then have on paper.
As tough of a pill as it is for Cavaliers fans to swallow, this trade probably didn’t help their chances of retaining James after this season. If the rumors are true and his mind was made up before this, then he may be long gone. But, winning an NBA Championship can cure a lot of things. So, if the Cavaliers prove capable of getting the job done with their core next season, then maybe, just maybe it would result in their superstar staying home.