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The NBA can’t stop creating major news even if it wanted to. Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers dropped a bombshell on NBA fans everywhere; Kyrie Irving is headed to Boston.
The trade involves Cleveland sending the former No. 1 overall pick to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round pick. This trade not only directly changes the two teams involved in the trade, but it also sends shock waves across the Eastern Conference as well.
Detroit fans are definitely welcomed to wonder exactly what this trade means for Stan Van Gundy and his crew. Below we detail just what Pistons can expect moving forward with Kyrie Irving donning the green and white:
The 2017-18 season
There were already a substantial amount of questions for the Pistons heading into this year. Clearly, there is no chance for Detroit to advance any further than the first round if they do not attain a better effort out of their two highest-paid players in Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.
While the Eastern Conference has already been weak, with Cleveland and Boston swapping point guards and Cleveland receiving more ‘long-term’ pieces in the trade, one can question the susceptibility of the Cavs moving forward. If the Pistons are potentially able to get a better effort out of No. 0 and No. 1, there is the potential of Detroit moving into a potential second-round match-up with Cleveland or Boston.
If that event were to transpire, it will be interesting to see how Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue handles the defensive ineptitude of Isaiah Thomas and whether the loss of Irving will put too much weight on LeBron James’ massive shoulders. On the flip side, Boston seems primed and ready to take over where Cleveland once reigned and have to be at least equal to Cleveland in projections of making the NBA Finals.
In either scenario, the Pistons will need better efforts from their “star” players in order to face teams that have suddenly made massive changes to their team dynamics. As it currently sits, ESPN has the Pistons tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the upstart Philadelphia 76ers.
Beyond the 2017-18 season
This portion of the piece is much more relevant for Detroit fans in the wake of this seismic trade. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be in rebuild-mode very swiftly after the 2017-18 season, as incessant rumors continue to state LeBron is bolting out of Cleveland after this year. Additionally, the Nets pick that Cleveland attained will likely be in the top three in next year’s NBA Draft, Jae Crowder’s contract is small enough it won’t hit the books very hard, and all of the veteran contracts Cleveland has compiled will be easy to be rid of as well.
The Cavaliers will be in a hard reset period and will likely not be much of a threat to any Eastern Conference teams for some time.
Boston, as previously mentioned, now has a core group of players in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, and the freshly-acquired Kyrie Irving locked in for the next three to four years to dominate the East. Everything Detroit should be doing will be to counter what the Celtics have built under prodigal coach Brad Stevens. With Stevens already evident coaching prowess and the potential for Irving to be extended past his current three-year deal, Boston will be a major hurdle for teams in the East to climb.
Detroit will have to determine in relative swiftness whether the current construction revolved around Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson can disrupt what the Celtics are building.
This decision will also way heavily on whether the team decides to attempt to sign newly-attained Avery Bradley to a max contract next season. With the pieces finally settling in place, we will know at the end of this year on which teams will fill the void of LeBron James’ departure and which teams will need to go back to the drawing board.
Upstart teams like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Washington will also be looking to fight with the Celtics for power in the coming years as well. Detroit will need to either build around Drummond and Jackson or dump them both to expedite the process of getting back to the top.
For Pistons fans, it has been a long time since success has happened for basketball in the Motor City, but this trade makes the formula for success much more clear.