The Boston Celtics made one of the biggest splashes of the NBA offseason when they traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving, but Jaylen Brown said the move changed the "whole culture" within the franchise.
Adam Caparell of Complex Sports shared Brown's take in a Monday interview:
"It changes the whole dynamic, the whole culture. We'll see if it's for good or bad, time will tell. But it's still a little weird to me, to be honest, because when I came in everything they stressed was culture, environment, Celtic basketball. Now, it's like what is the environment, the culture, what is Celtic basketball? I think it's a great opportunity for me, great opportunity for the Celtics, great opportunity for Kyrie. Obviously, I loved Isaiah. He was like a big brother to me. I watched him, admired him, the chip he carried on his shoulder I love him. I still do. I've kept in contact with him. Congratulated him when he got traded to the Cavs. It's tough because it's the business we live in. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily. I think Isaiah definitely tried to plant his flag in Boston."
Brown stressing the business aspect of the trade echoes a similar sentiment Thomas made in a Players' Tribune piece when he said he didn't agree with the move and thought the Celtics failed to improve by trading him.
"But at the end of the day, these deals just come down to one thing: business," Thomas wrote. "So it's no hard feelings on that end."
Brown's focus on the culture also stands out considering Thomas, Crowder and Avery Bradley were all primary pieces of last season's squad that reached the Eastern Conference Finals. All three (Boston traded Bradley to the Detroit Pistons) are now on different teams, and the Celtics will rely on a handful of new faces in 2017-18 as they look to challenge Cleveland in the East.
Along with Irving, Boston signed Gordon Hayward, drafted Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick out of Duke and landed Marcus Morris in the Bradley trade. They figure to be four of the primary pieces head coach Brad Stevens uses this season, meaning Boston fans and the remaining players will need to grow accustomed to the new playmakers.
While the result is a changed culture, the Celtics now have one of the most proven point guards in the league in Irving who has thrived on the exact stage they are trying to reach. He drilled the winning shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and torched the Golden State Warriors for 29.4 points per game in the 2017 Finals.
Thomas will be missed, but Brown and Boston fans would likely be fine with a culture change if the end result is a championship in June.