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Re-evaluating the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving-Collin Sexton trade


It was greater than three years in the past that the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving for a draft decide that might change into Collin Sexton.

CLEVELAND — Editor’s be aware: the video within the participant above is from Jan. 19, 2021.

As has occurred a number of instances earlier than, a Cleveland Cavaliers guard lit up the scoreboard at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night time.

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He was sporting No. 2. He was sporting Kyrie Irving’s Nike signature sneakers. Heck, Kyrie Irving was even on the courtroom.

However it wasn’t Kyrie Irving.

Slightly, it was Collin Sexton handing over a efficiency for the ages, scoring a career-high 42 factors whereas main the Cavs to a 147-135 double-overtime victory over Irving’s Brooklyn Nets. And whereas the displaying would have been particular underneath any circumstances, Irving’s presence on the courtroom helped conjure ideas of the commerce that landed Sexton in Cleveland within the first place.

Greater than years after the blockbuster commerce that despatched Irving to the Boston Celtics, the Cavs’ precise return on the deal is starting to crystalize. With that in thoughts, let’s have a look again on the commerce and what Cleveland now has to indicate for it.

The deal

Almost one month to the day that Irving first demanded a commerce in July 2017, the Cavs agreed to ship the now-6-time All-Star to the Celtics in change for the next items:

  • Guard Isaiah Thomas
  • Ahead Jae Crowder
  • Middle Ante Zizic
  • The Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round decide
  • The Miami Warmth’s 2020 second-round decide

To say that the short-term return on the deal was unfavorable for Cleveland can be an understatement.

After recovering from offseason hip surgical procedure, Thomas performed simply 15 video games for the Cavs, averaging 14.7 factors on .361 p.c taking pictures whereas failing to mesh with LeBron James. He has since appeared in simply 69 NBA video games and at the moment stays unsigned one month into the 2020-21 season.

Crowder, in the meantime, performed in 53 video games for the Cavs (together with 47 begins) and averaged 8.6 factors on .418 taking pictures. Like Thomas, he was traded on the 2018 NBA commerce deadline and has gone on to spend time as a invaluable position participant for the Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Warmth and Phoenix Suns.

The 6-foot-10 Zizic performed sparingly over the course of three seasons with the Cavs, along with his most vital contributions coming within the 2018-19 marketing campaign, when he averaged 7.Eight factors and 5.four rebounds in 59 video games. He’s at the moment enjoying for Maccabi Tel Aviv within the Israeli Premier League.

The Nets’ decide wound up being the No. Eight choice within the 2018 draft, which Cleveland used to pick out Sexton — extra on him later. The Warmth’s second-round decide wound up being traded twice extra earlier than the Atlanta Hawks used it to pick out LSU guard Skylar Mays with the No. 50 decide within the 2020 NBA Draft. He has appeared in three NBA video games throughout his rookie season whereas splitting time within the G League.

Extra dealings

Sensing that Thomas and Crowder weren’t meshing with the remainder of their roster, the Cavs had been the NBA’s most lively group on the 2018 commerce deadline. 

In a single deal, Cleveland despatched Thomas and Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Lakers in change for ahead Larry Nance Jr. and guard Jordan Clarkson. In a separate three-way deal, the Cavs traded Crowder and guard Derrick Rose to the Jazz and guard Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings, buying level guard George Hill and swingman Rodney Hood.

Within the time since, Nance has change into certainly one of Cleveland’s core items, a flexible 6-foot-7 ahead able to contributing on each side of the ground. In 2018, the Cavs signed Nance — the son of the franchise’s former All-Star ahead Larry Nance — to a four-year, $45 million contract. By way of 14 video games this season, he has averaged 10.Eight factors and 6.2 rebounds.

Clarkson averaged 15.5 factors in the course of the elements of the three seasons he spent with the Cavs. In 2019, he was traded to the Utah Jazz in change for guard Dante Exum and two second-round picks.

After being acquired from the Kings, Hill served because the Cavs’ start line guard all through their run to a fourth straight NBA Finals, the place they misplaced to the Golden State Warriors. In 2018, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in change for guard Matthew Dellavedova, heart John Henson and a future first-round decide. 

Final yr, Cleveland traded Henson and Brandon Knight to the Detroit Pistons for All-Star heart Andre Drummond. Just lately, the Cavs traded the first-round decide they acquired from Milwaukee and Exum to the Houston Rockets in a four-way commerce, buying heart Jarrett Allen and ahead Taurean Prince from the Brooklyn Nets.

Hood, in the meantime, was traded to the Portland Path Blazers in 2019 for a package deal together with taking pictures guard Nik Stauskas, level guard Wade Baldwin and two future second-round picks. 

Altogether, the next gamers are at the moment members of Cleveland’s roster as a result of items that had been acquired as part of the Irving commerce and subsequent offers:

  • Collin Sexton
  • Larry Nance Jr.
  • Matthew Dellavedova
  • Andre Drummond
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Taurean Prince

What about Sexton?

For all that Cavs common supervisor Koby Altman has spun the Irving commerce into since, the centerpiece of the deal was at all times the Nets decide — and that continues to be the case much more so now. Regardless of debates over whether or not Cleveland ought to deal the decide for instant assist throughout what can be James’ remaining season with the franchise, the Cavs in the end opted to carry onto the decide, utilizing it to pick out Sexton out of Alabama.

Whereas it did not take lengthy for the 6-foot-1 guard to indicate his potential to attain, he is taken it to a brand new degree in his third season within the league. In 9 video games, Sexton has averaged 27.zero factors on a career-best .534 taking pictures, together with an absurd .500 p.c from 3-point vary.

Though Sexton’s averages are prone to regress, his penchant for filling up the basket cannot be denied. In what marks the third season of Cleveland’s post-James rebuild, the 22-year-old Sexton has emerged as the kind of younger, core participant that the Cavs had been hoping to accumulate after they had been pressured to commerce Irving greater than three years in the past.

Talking of Irving, it is value noting that he left the Celtics after simply two seasons to signal with the Nets, leaving Boston with nothing left — and never even an NBA Finals look — to indicate for its 2017 blockbuster commerce. And whereas the participant who hit the most important shot in Cavs historical past definitely nonetheless has massive sneakers to fill, Sexton positive appeared to do a heck of an impression on Wednesday.


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