Lil Rel Details Kyrie Irving’s Unfiltered Reaction to Finding Out He Was Leaving Cleveland

The trade is now part of NBA lore, one we will likely debate for years, maybe even decades, to come: in August 2017, the two best teams in the Eastern Conference swapped star guards. Boston sent Isaiah Thomas (along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Nets' 2018 first-round pick) to Cleveland. In return, the Cavs sent over the heralded young floor general Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics were the clear winners of the deal. Irving has blossomed in his new role as Boston's alpha, while Thomas and Crowder did not live up to expectations in Cleveland. The Cavs rallied, however, and flipped Thomas and Crowder to acquire valuable assets at the trade deadline, so the trade wasn't a total wash for the Cavs.

Before Sunday night's Oscars, actor Lil Rel Howery, who had a role in Get Out and stars in the new Uncle Drew movie alongside Irving, shared a story about Irving's response when the trade went through.

“The dopest moment was when the trade actually went through, he was so happy, man,” Lil Rel said on the red carpet. “We was in the middle of a scene. We was shooting a scene, his homeboy comes in and whispers in his ear and he just runs out the—we filming—he just runs out, we was in the club shooting a scene, runs out. So happy. He comes back and everybody's applauding. And it was a dancing scene, so when you see it and he's really getting it, that was real life. He was really happy.”

The Uncle Drew film debuts June 29. Check out a trailer, which briefly shows Irving dancing in the club, below.

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This Was Kyrie Irving’s Reaction to the Cavaliers’ Massive Roster Overhaul

Most people expected the Cavaliers to shake things up at the NBA trade deadline on Thursday and make one or two moves to improve their roster as they prepare to head into the second half of the 2017-18 NBA season. But most people didn’t expect them to go as far as they did.

Just hours before the trade deadline, the Cavaliers orchestrated a series of moves that saw them trade away Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder—in addition to a couple draft picks—in exchange for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood. Cleveland will have a completely different lineup when they take the court to play against the Hawks on Friday night, and they’re hoping it will help them get out of the rut they’ve been stuck in for most of the last month.

In the aftermath of all the action involving the Cavaliers at the trade deadline, there were quite a few people who wondered what Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the whole thing must have been. The Cavaliers essentially parted way with the two players (Thomas and Crowder) they got in exchange for him last summer. They also looked like a team desperate to improve their current situation in a hurry. So many speculated about what Irving’s response to the whole thing would be and used memes to make their best guesses.

But what was Irving’s real reaction? As it turns out, a whole lot less exciting than the memes might have suggested. On Thursday night, Irving scored 28 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists in a 110-104 Celtics’ overtime win over the Wizards.

And after the game, he was asked to provide a response to the trades the Cavaliers pulled off earlier in the day. Irving took a few seconds to collect his thoughts and looked like he might have something to say about them. But then, he hit reporters with a slight shrug before matter-of-factly saying, “I’m in Boston.”

We doubt those are Irving’s only thoughts on the situation. But for now, that’s the only reaction he has. Stay tuned to see if he has more to say after LeBron James and the Cavaliers play Irving and the Celtics on Sunday afternoon.

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Who Won the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas Trade? We All Did.

Well, the trade everyone was expecting to happen finally happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, in exchange for fellow All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and a whole mess of other assets, including Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick—a pick Celtics GM Danny Ainge had seemed loathe to give up for anything. In the end, not only did he give it up, he gave it up to the team that beat his in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Say what you want about the NBA, just never say it’s not fascinating.

The Celtics now have just one starter—center Al Horford—remaining from a 53-win team. Their longest-tenured player, 23-year-old Marcus Smart, was a first-round pick in 2014. They gave up nearly all they had left to land Irving. Thomas was the heart and soul of the team, an undersized scorer who dominated fourth quarters and had completed the unlikely journey from the final pick of the 2011 Draft to MVP candidate. Jae Crowder is a 27-year-old defensive stalwart on a bargain of a deal. Ante Žižić is a 20-year-old, 7-foot center with tremendous upside and even more tremendous accent marks. It was a lot to offer up even without the Nets pick—especially for someone who’d expressly said he wanted out.

But consider what the Celtics got back: Irving may have been drafted the same year as Thomas, but he’s three years younger and locked into a max deal (making $9 million less a year than Horford) with a player option in 2019. He’s six inches taller than Thomas as well, and, alongside Gordon Hayward, makes for quite the backcourt. And while Thomas’s fourth-quarter exploits are the stuff of legend, Irving has had his moments in the spotlight as well, including, well, the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history. If you’re ever going to go all-in for a single player, a 25-year-old four-time All-Star who’s excelled in three straight NBA Finals is the one to go for.

As for the Cavaliers, they got one hell of a return for someone who clearly wanted to be elsewhere. They had no leverage at all, yet received an All-Star still in his prime, a valuable building block in Crowder, and effectively a pair of first-round picks, seeing that Žižić has yet to make his NBA debut. While Thomas doesn’t exactly replace everything Kyrie is able to do, the addition of Crowder should enable LeBron to get a little more rest next season after leading the league in minutes played. And next summer, should James decide to decamp for the West along with all the other All-Stars, the Cavaliers will have yet another top pick. Or maybe the prospect of getting another top pick helps convince James to stay. It’s a win/win.

None of this is meant to sell IT short (er, sorry), since he’s become one hell of a player since he was drafted 60th overall out of Washington in 2011. He’s made multiple leaps in his career, from bench player to starter, from star to superstar. He averaged a career-high 28.9 ppg last year and finished fifth in MVP voting a year after averaging 22.2 ppg and making his first All-Star Game. The big question is what is that worth. With his Bird Rights travelling with him to Cleveland, he stands to receive a major payday when his deal expires next summer. (This season he’ll make a paltry $6.2 million.) It’s possible that Ainge just wasn’t ready to pay max money to an undersized crowd favorite—and maybe Cleveland won’t either. They have a year to make up their minds.

Who won the trade? That’s yet to be seen. They’ve gotta play the games first. But on the surface at least, this appears to be one of those rare deals where no one really loses. (Except for perhaps NBA2K, who put a Cavs-uniformed Kyrie on the cover of their latest game.) The rest of us, though, we all win. Because when the season starts on October 17th, guess who plays each other on TNT first? Even Charles Barkley might watch that game.

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Where Can Carmelo Anthony Go?

It's going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo Anthony no matter what ends up happening to the Knicks star.

There's the potential of a divorce hanging over his head (check the gossip pages), and Melo knows Knicks team president Phil Jackson wants nothing to do with the future Hall of Famer and would gladly pack Melo's bags if he could find a taker for his services. The only problem is Melo owns a no-trade clause—which Jackson gladly gave him three summers ago—and a 15 percent trade kicker that means whatever team acquires him will have to pay more for his services than the Knicks currently are. 

So Melo's options are kind of limited, to say the least. But there are a few teams out there that could make a play for the dynamic scorer. Some are obvious and have been widely discussed. One is kind of under the radar. Four of them should be contenders next year. The other is a wasteland featuring epic amounts of dysfunction, paranoia, and a future void of success. 

While he hilariously gets to call the shots in the process, we can't wait for the full-blown melodrama—pun intended—to play out over the summer. So before all the wheelings and dealings start popping when free agency begins, familiarize yourself with the likeliest destinations for Carmelo Anthony's services next season.


  • New York Knicks

    Odds Melo Stays There: 2-5

    Melo isn’t going anywhere because Phil Jackson isn’t going to get shit for him, and Anthony isn’t going to waive his no-trade clause unless it’s for a contender. So, Melo for like a couple vets and a 15th man? No thanks. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances. Carmelo doesn’t deserve to be treated this way and Phil clearly could give two shits about how Melo feels with the way he’s handling the situation publicly. Phil has bigger fish to fry, like running Kristips Porzingis out of town.

    Why anyone would want to be a Knick in the year of our Lord 2017 is beyond me, but both Carmelo and Porzingawd wanna stay in the Rotten Apple. Leave it to the Knicks to somehow always stay relevant, whether good or bad; this circus is here to stay. James Dolan should do his job and fire Phil Jackson right now! I would have my bags packed if I were Melo. Who needs this? Anthony’s feverish need to win in New York and have a statue erected in his likeness could be the only reason. That or his brand. #StayMe7o —A.D. 

     

  • Los Angeles Clippers

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 5-1

    The easy thing for the Los Angeles Clippers to do would be this: re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to max deals, find a young, inexpensive shooter to replace an aging J.J. Redick, and go out and try it again. This would be a terrible idea. Yes, the Clippers have had a degree of success with their current lineup—if not a Western Conference Finals appearance—and yes, they could easily blame injuries for early exits like this year’s. But there comes a point when a core has run its course, and for the Clippers that time is now. The Griffin-Paul-DeAndre Jordan triumvirate has been together for seven seasons without as much a conference championship to show for it. And, at 32, Paul is entering the tail end of his prime. What he needs is a pure scorer who wants the ball in his hands at the end of games. Who he needs is Carmelo Anthony. —R.B. 

     

  • Washington Wizards

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 10-1

    The Wizards haven't heavily been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Anthony because it's a dicey cap situation trying to make Melo fit, but if you look at Washington's roster and remember one high-profile signing made in the past, maybe it's not so far-fetched. Once upon a time, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld brought in Paul Pierce to provide veteran leadership and valuable scoring. The Pierce experiment, or whatever you want to call it, only lasted one season and it wasn't exactly a raging success—Washington lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semis. At age 37, Pierce started 73 games, averaged 16.3 points per, and hit 38.9 percent of his threes. You don't think Melo could put up better numbers than that next year? You don't think a team that easily could have been in the Eastern Conference Finals this season could use another weapon like Carmelo to battle LeBron and Co.? Slot in Anthony with John Wall and Bradley Beal and that's easily one of the most potent threesomes in the league.

    Of course, there are hypotheticals. Would Melo and his ball-stopping ways screw up the Wizards? Would he whine about not getting enough shots with Wall serving as the focal point and Beal the clear No. 2 option? Would Phil Jackson be cool with Otto Porter and a pick in return for Melo? Does anybody on the Wizards roster even appeal to his antiquated tastes? We don't have the answers, but the more we think about it the more we think Washington makes a lot of sense for Melo. A.C. 


  • Boston Celtics

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 25-1

    The Celtics are going to lose the Eastern Conference Finals, and once they do Danny Ainge will have some big decisions to make like what to do in June's NBA Draft with the No. 1 pick and whether making a move for Carmelo Anthony is smart. We all know Boston isn't going to get over the LeBron James hump until they either get more scoring help or Bron slows down. With guys like Jaylen Brown, Markelle Fultz (when they draft him), and the Nets 2018 first-round pick, plus Coach of the Year candidate Brad Stevens, the Celtics have an extremely promising nucleus for the future.

    Yes, they have Isaiah Thomas for another season, but does he become expendable if Boston drafts a point guard? Would Ainge seriously entertain an offer if Phil Jackson wanted a haul in return? We know Jackson covets Jae Crowder, but would Ainge feel comfortable giving up one of his best defenders and something else for Melo's offense? From Anthony's perspective, #StayMe7o shouldn’t hesitate to waive his no-trade clause if Boston comes calling. —J.F. 

     

  • Cleveland Cavaliers

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 45-1

    Because Carmelo and LeBron James are boys, the idea of the two talented scorers playing together will always be brought up. And when LeBron was complaining about not having enough talent around him earlier this season, and the relationship between Melo and Phil Jackson really started to break down, speculation was running rampant that Melo could very likely find himself in Cleveland. Well, that obviously didn't happen, but reports surfaced that LeBron wanted Melo—even if it meant sacrificing Kevin Love. Cavs management didn't want to pull the trigger at February's trade deadline, and with Love playing so well in the playoffs what makes you think they're suddenly going to change their mind this summer?

    Offense isn't the issue with the Cavs. We know that for sure. And do the Cavs really have any other pieces that would intrigue Jackson, because we know he wants nothing to do with Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith? The more likely scenario is that Dwyane Wade opts out in Chicago and teams back up with LeBron, leaving their boy Melo on the outside looking in at another run to the NBA Finals. Who needs enemies when you've got friends like that? —A.C. 

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John Wall Rips Celtics for ‘Wearing All Black, Talking About a Funeral’ Before Game Against Wizards

Back in early January, several Celtics and Wizards players were involved in a heated altercation on the court after Jae Crowder hit John Wall in the face on a play. About two weeks later, the two teams played again, and Wizards players showed up for the game wearing all black. Wall said Washington was preparing for “a funeral,” and the Wizards went out and beat the Celtics 123-108. It led to some bad blood between the two teams, with Isaiah Thomas referring to the stunt as “cute” and telling reporters, “It’s not like it’s a Game 7.”

On Friday night, the Celtics appeared to pull the same stunt prior to Game 6 of their best-of-7 playoff series against the Wizards. Boston had a chance to knock Washington out of the playoffs, so when Celtics players arrived at the Verizon Center for the game, they were dressed in all black. And while the Celtics players didn’t say they were dressed for “a funeral” like Wall did in January, that was certainly how NBA fans interpreted the gesture.

The gesture didn’t end up working out all that well for the Celtics. Although they led the Wizards by two points with less than 10 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Wall hit a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to help the Wizards win 92-91 and force a Game 7 back in Boston.

And shortly after sinking what might have been the biggest shot of his entire career, Wall spoke with ESPN and ripped the Celtics players for showing up for the game in black.

“Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” he said.

Later, Wall added: “It was just funny to me. I mean, talking to family and friends, they get to see what’s happening on social media. I try to stay off it…and they just said they were gonna wear all black, so we knew it was kind of copy-catting what we did. It was in my mind throughout the game. I didn’t want them to come here in all black and basically call it a funeral and we lose at home.”

Wall’s teammates were upset with the Celtics’ gesture, too. Markieff Morris accused the Celtics of blatantly biting the Wizards’ original idea. “They want to be us so bad,” Morris said.

Meanwhile, Bradley Beal admitted that he didn’t even realize the Celtics had shown up to the game in all black until after it was over, before adding that the Wizards didn’t let it affect their approach to the game.

“I didn’t know that they wore all black today,” Beal said. “But it doesn’t faze us. It is what it is.”

Several Celtics players denied wearing all black on purpose and tried to say that Boston wasn’t planning “a funeral” as many fans suggested. Avery Bradley told reporters it was just a coincidence that all of the Boston players wore black on the same night. “I promise you guys,” he said.

Gerald Green also downplayed the drama surrounding the Celtics’ attire and said he wore an all black outfit because it was the only thing he had in his overnight bag. “I had nothing else to wear,” he said. “I don’t know nothing about nothing, man.”

Whether the Celtics tried to get inside the Wizards players’ heads by wearing all black or not, it’s clear that Wall and his teammates took notice of what they wore to the game and responded accordingly. And it’s going to make Game 7 of the series on Monday night that much more exciting. Just don’t expect anyone to show up to the game wearing black again.

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