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Friday, May 25, 2018

Cavs player on Kyrie Irving trade: ‘Danny Ainge is a f—ing thief’

Danny Ainge Celtics

The trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics last offseason has looked worse and worse for the Cleveland Cavaliers with each passing month. Although Irving has not played this postseason after he underwent knee surgery over a month ago, the Cavs have virtually nothing left to show for dealing him.

It didn’t take an 0-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals to realize that, and one player made reference to it several months ago. When the Cavs were losing games in bunches during the winter, one player offered up a very animated opinion to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

“Danny Ainge is a f—ing thief,” Lloyd recalls the player saying to him after an ugly loss.

It would sure seem that way. At Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, the first-round pick Cleveland acquired from the Celtics in the Irving trade landed at No. 8. Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the two key players the Cavs got in the deal, are no longer with the team. What the Cavs ultimately ended up with in exchange for Irving is Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance, Ante Zizic and a No. 8 pick. Lloyd shed some light on how well that has worked out.

Hood is a staggering minus-82 in his 12 games this postseason, the worst plus/minus of anyone in these playoffs — and it’s really not even close. Opponents have managed to outscore the Cavs by 82 points while Hood was on the floor despite him playing just 200 minutes. The next-closest is Utah’s Royce O’Neal, who posted a minus-67 in 59 more minutes than Hood has played.

The player with the second-worst plus/minus on the Cavs this postseason?

Clarkson.

Third-worst?

Nance.

Whenever any of those three have been on the floor in these playoffs, the Cavs have been outscored by 164 points. Making matters worse, Irving ended last year’s postseason a plus-124. That’s a 288-point differential in the postseason between Irving and the three key figures the Cavs have left to show for him.

The Cavaliers have looked like they have virtually nothing outside of LeBron James and Kevin Love through the first two games of their series against Boston. Even head coach Tyronn Lue has resorted to making lame excuses, and there were many times during Game 1 and Game 2 that Cleveland players — LeBron included — looked like they just wanted to go home.

Irving forced his way out of town, but it’s hard to imagine the Cavs wouldn’t be in better shape if they ignored his demands and told him to suck it up. The chemistry seemingly can’t get any worse, and even Irving’s knee surgery and postseason absence isn’t enough to warrant a feeling of relief in Cleveland.

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