With Thomas-Irving trade in limbo, don’t overlook Jae Crowder’s importance to Cavs

The
Boston Celtics
acquired
Jae Crowder
on Dec. 18, 2014, but his name wasn’t in any of the headlines. The deal sent four-time All-Star
Rajon Rondo
and forward
Dwight Powell
to the
Dallas Mavericks
in exchange for
Brandan Wright
,
Jameer Nelson
, Crowder, draft picks and a trade extension. Crowder was seen as a throw-in, and the Mavericks were widely praised for giving up so little. The trade turned out to be one of the most important parts of one of the most impressive rebuilding projects in NBA history, with Crowder quickly becoming a fan favorite and eventually drawing difficult defensive assignments in the playoffs. 

A couple of years after the Rondo experiment failed, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle admitted they should never have traded Crowder. Now, assuming that Boston and the
Cleveland Cavaliers
‘ blockbuster trade doesn’t get derailed, Crowder is on the move again. Just like last time, he is not the biggest name involved, but there is no longer any excuse for overlooking or underrating him. If the Cavs are seriously considering letting this swap fall apart, they need to ask themselves a question: Is there any other way they can get someone like Crowder?

In the aftermath of the Cavaliers’ loss to the 
Golden State Warriors
 in the NBA Finals, it was obvious that they needed to make changes. Their best defensive lineups needed more spacing; their best offensive lineups couldn’t stop anybody. With the championship on the line, they couldn’t use
LeBron James
as a free safety as much as they wanted to because they needed him to check Kevin Durant, and they had trouble figuring out a rotation that made sense against a team as athletic and versatile as…

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