The Kyrie Irving-from-LeBronville Heights-to-Bahstin trade is rightly being called a blockbuster because it engenders so many concepts at once – making the second-best team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference seemingly better than the first-best team with one phone call and five shifted bodies.
At least that’s how it plays outside the Bay Area, because now that the Golden State Warriors have taken ownership of the entire league, Kyrie Irving’s whereabouts don’t actually change the balance of power – because there is none.
There’s the power, and there’s the other 29 teams.
Plus, and this is a forgotten element through all the machinations of the NBA’s Meth-Bender Summer, the league is fighting over individual pieces when the Warriors are preaching the virtues of the mega-ensemble.
Irving wants to be the focus of his team, which seems to fly in the face of Boston’s ball-movement philosophy. Paul George, who complained when he didn’t take the last shot in a playoff game this April, is in Oklahoma City with the master of the me-first game, Russell Westbrook. Carmelo Anthony is still in stasis but constantly mentioned as the next Houston Rocket, joining Chris Paul and James Harden in what would seem to be the living embodiment of The Total Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts ball.
Unless, of course, all these assumptions are wrong, and all the relocated stars suddenly find the virtues the Warriors displayed in boatracing the field this year and become not only unselfish offensively but more stridently devoted to defense. All these players are bright, determined, and seemingly open to new ideas (well, maybe not Melo, but even that is open to debate), but will they choose to be?
And even more compelling, will there be the immediate payoff in doing so?
On Question A, let us be charitable and suggest that they can do that. On Question B, however, such a return seems unlikely unless the Warriors either devote themselves to the pursuit of self or fail to avoid the medical department.
There is something worrisome about the sureness with which people are conceding 2018 – can all these self-absorbed morons be right? Things can happen to great teams, even in the NBA, which is the most hierarchical of sports.
But only the Warriors can beat the Warriors, because Kyrie Irving the Celtic does not seem at first glance to be better positioned for a parade than Kyrie Irving the Cavalier.
And that’s true of every roster move this summer. Deck chairs were moved for a better view, but the bridge is manned by the same captain, at least for the time being.