The Cleveland Cavaliers extract a king’s ransom for Kyrie Irving

August 25, 2017

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the old adage goes. And the Cleveland Cavaliers of North America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) are very, very far from broken: they have reached the finals for three consecutive years, and in 2016 won the first championship for a major professional sports team in the city in over half a century. Nonetheless, on August 22nd Koby Altman, who was named the club’s general manager less than a month earlier, took the bold step of breaking up the Cavaliers’ core, by trading Kyrie Irving (pictured, left), their star point guard, to the Boston Celtics. In exchange, Mr Altman received a package of three players headlined by Isaiah Thomas (right), plus a pick in the 2018 entry draft. In a superstar-driven sport like basketball, the team that receives the best player in a deal usually wins it. The Cavaliers-Celtics swap is unlikely to be an exception. But there is a strong argument that it was Cleveland, not Boston, who wound up with the top player in the transaction—and that the prize of what will be forever remembered as the Irving-Thomas deal is neither named Irving nor Thomas.

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