Two of the NBA’s best guards are on the move. The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a blockbuster trade that will send Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland and Kyrie Irving to Boston.

While Irving’s name has long been floated in trade rumors, the likelihood of this deal was brought to light as Tuesday progressed.



Any trades involving players of this caliber are rare. They’re even more unique when the two teams involved are the best two teams in the same conference. The Celtics and Cavaliers had the best two records in the Eastern Conference in 2017 and met in the Eastern Conference Finals, where Cleveland defeated Boston 4-1. Thomas didn’t play in the final three games of that series.

In one respect, this puts a lot of importance onto the Cavaliers’ upcoming season. While Kyrie Irving was demanding a trade, he was also under contract through the 2018-19 season. Now, Cleveland will enter the 2017-18 season with both of its best two players, Thomas and LeBron James, as pending free agents. Given that virtually all of the talk this offseason has said that LeBron will leave Cleveland after the season, this trade puts the Cavs in definitive now or never mode.

On the other hand, Cleveland is getting a decent haul in return. That haul includes the No. 1 pick from Brooklyn, which is reportedly unprotected. It will still be important for the Cavaliers to win in 2018, but it won’t be so immediately disastrous if that doesn’t happen.