Tuesday in the NBA cleared up a few things. Kyrie Irving is now a Celtic and the Suns are fully committed to #TheTimeline.
After a month of speculation about the Phoenix Suns being one of the few logical trade partners for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal for Kyrie Irving, the Boston Celtics were like Moonlight to the rest of the NBA’s La La Land and swooped in to take the prize in the end. Last season’s No. 1 seed in the East acquired the all-star guard from their Conference Final opponents in exchange for former Sun Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 1st round pick.
I’ll admit, despite being on record as anti-Kyrie Irving to Phoenix, when the initial reports surfaced that the Celts and Cavs were close to a deal there was a twinge of regret. It’s a feeling not unfamiliar to Suns fans. After years of conditioning we always seem to wonder what negative impact each move or lack of a move may bring. After seeing what the Celtics gave up, all that regret dissipated quite quickly.
It’s been made abundantly clear the Suns wouldn’t have acquired Irving without giving up rookie small forward Josh Jackson. The price was too steep for many fans and obviously for the Suns front office as well. While it obviously would never have been a one-for-one swap, from this day forward, right or wrong, the measuring stick for Jackson’s career will be Irving.
Suns fans and media alike will play the “what if?” game in regards to what could have been with Irving in Phoenix. It makes Jackson the face of #TheTimeline along with Devin Booker and means the magnifying glass on the immensely talented young forward will be a little stronger than it would have been before otherwise.
It also means general manager Ryan McDonough’s career in Phoenix is tied directly to the development of Jackson.
What it comes down to is- would dealing seven years of Jackson’s career be worth what likely would have been a two year rental of Irving? Would Irving have provided that much more than Eric Bledsoe will if he stays healthy? Plus, would giving up the 2018 Miami 1st round pick be worth the price of admission?
Probably not. Irving may be a star but acquiring him likely wouldn’t have made the Suns good enough to contend in a difficult Western Conference but would certainly have kept them from being bad enough to get a meaningful draft pick. It would have put Phoenix in the NBA’s no-man’s land. The middle.
The Suns for the first time in recent memory are committed to building through youth while keeping their options open for future moves. That future, at least for now, still includes No. 4 pick Josh Jackson and all eyes will be on him when the Suns officially take the court for the first time in October and well beyond.