As the NBA world anxiously awaits to hear whether or not the blockbuster Kyrie Irving-for-Isaiah Thomas trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will go through — the two sides have until Thursday to reach a deal — the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly prepared to swoop in with an offer of their own.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Milwaukee will offer guards Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon to the Cavs in exchange for their all-star point guard, and would be willing to include a first-round pick as well to sweeten the pot.
The Cavaliers have been holding up the Irving-for-Thomas trade due to concerns over Thomas’ hip injury, which caused him to miss Boston’s final three playoff games versus Cleveland and required off-season surgery. The timeline on Thomas’ return to game action is unclear and he is at least expected to miss the first month of the season.
Given the uncertainty around Thomas’ health (he says he’ll return 100 per cent to form in case you were wondering), Cleveland is repordetly looking for further compensation. Originally, they agreed to trade Irving for Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick but are now reportedly looking for at least an additional late first-rounder as well — earlier rumours that they wanted the Celtics to throw in one of Jaylen Brown or Jason Tatum have been mostly debunked.
It would be shocking if the trade were to fall through and Thomas were to return to Boston, especially given the negative reaction Celtics GM Danny Ainge has received for dealing the fan-favourite point guard — who had carried Boston to the No. 1 seed in the East, finished third in the NBA in scoring, and suited up in the playoffs the day after his younger sister passed away.
Avoiding that firestorm alone should be motivation for Ainge to up the ante, but the Cavaliers could certainly do a lot worse than what the Bucks are willing to part with. Middleton is a career 40 per cent three-point shooter who would thrive spacing the floor alongside LeBron James.
Brogdon, meanwhile, is a versatile backcourt player fresh off a season in which he captured Rookie of the Year honours and by season’s end was running the point for Milwaukee. James and the Cavs are no stranger to what he can do.
Irving in Milwaukee, meanwhile, would be enough to propel the Bucks to a potential No. 2 seed in the East, where a core of Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker would cause headaches for opposing defences. Don’t bank on it happening, but given what’s already transpired around the NBA this summer, it feels like nothing can be ruled out anymore.