With trade in flux, Cleveland Cavaliers need to land everything they can for Kyrie Irving

CLEVELAND - At some point late last week, Isaiah Thomas came to Cleveland to take a physical.

By now, it's clear the Cavaliers didn't like what they saw.

It's been nearly a week since the Cavs and Boston Celtics announced the blockbuster trade that would send Thomas -- along with forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round pick -- to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving, and yet both teams and players involved have remained mum on the deal. Neither the Cavs nor Celtics have held introductory press conferences, with the closest thing to an official welcome from either franchise being social media posts or the star players' new gear going on sale.

What's the holdup? According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, it's Thomas' injured hip.

Per Wojnarowski:

After Cleveland's physical examination of Isaiah Thomas' injured hip raised concern about the timeline for his return this season, Cavaliers officials are planning to seek an additional trade asset before finalizing a deal to send four-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, league sources said.
 
Without revisions to the original trade agreement, the Cavaliers could threaten to veto the trade, league sources said.
 
The Cavaliers' stance could trigger a standoff between Cleveland and Boston officials, forcing both organizations to weigh the consequences of letting the blockbuster trade implode.

That the Cavs remain concerned with Thomas' hip, which he injured in this past year's playoffs, is not insignificant. While the Nets' unprotected first-round pick may have been the headliner of the deal from Cleveland's perspective, Thomas served as the Cavs' most important piece for the immediate future.

And the immediate future may ultimately be what matters most for Cleveland.

With LeBron James able to opt out of his contract at the end of the upcoming season, the end of the Cavs' championship window could very well be approaching. In theory, the haul Cleveland received from Boston was supposed to help both its short and long-term outlooks, but if Thomas' hip is going to keep him sidelined longer than expected, that might not be the case.

Thus, it would behoove the Cavs to maximize their return on Irving -- be it with Boston or even another team. According to Wojnarowski, "the deadline to report and submit to a physical for the players involved in the trade is 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, and the deadline to pass the physical is 10 a.m. ET Thursday, per league rules," although both teams can opt to mutually extend that window.

The threat of Cleveland vetoing the trade, however, could become real should the Celtics not sweeten their pot with additional compensation. It's no secret Boston possesses a plethora of young assets in the form of both players and draft picks, including second-year forward Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Neither player may increase the Cavs' championship odds much in 2017, but when paired with a draft pick could help Cleveland land another All-Star to pair alongside James, Kevin Love and Thomas -- provided he's eventually at full strength and still included in the deal.

Of course, Boston isn't without leverage in this apparent renegotiation. After all, it's telling the Cavs opted to trade Irving, a 4-time All-Star, to their Eastern Conference rival in the first place. Sure, Cleveland can veto the deal, but then what? It was already clear the Celtics offered the most enticing package for the Cavs' disgruntled guard.

But if Thomas isn't healthy, that offer might not be as attractive as it once seemed. Yes, the Nets' pick is important, but so too is having a healthy starting point guard -- which at this point, it doesn't appear Cleveland does.

One way or another, we'll soon see whether Boston is willing to add incentive to the trade or the Cavs would actually consider pulling out of the deal altogether.

Fortunately for Cleveland, playing the waiting game this summer is nothing new.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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