Danny Ainge traded Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in what was the biggest deal this summer, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
In exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets pick in 2018, the Boston Celtics got Kyrie Irving. The deal was, without a doubt, the most seismic of the offseason. When it came to dealing his star, however, Danny Ainge fully understood the ramifications.
“It was definitely the toughest call I ever had to make,” said Ainge to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
The Celtics were coming off a 53-29 season that came to an end at the hands of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Thomas, unfortunately, was present for just two games.
It was the 28-year-old’s second full season with Boston, and he reached a height that only he could’ve imagined. In 76 regular season games, Thomas averaged a career-best 28.9 points and shot 46.3 percent from the field. He quickly became a fan favorite in Boston. The grit and never die attitude made him the most beloved Celtic since Larry Bird, and his on-court performance only amplified that.
The most memorable moment is Thomas suiting for a playoff game after the untimely death of his sister, Chyna. A couple of weeks later, the diminutive guard furthered his lore when he dropped 53 points on May 2 against the Washington Wizards. That would’ve been Chyna’s 23rd birthday.
All of these feelings and events didn’t make Danny Ainge’s job any easier.
“I have a pretty good understanding how real this all is involving players and their lives and their families and disruptions and emotions,” elaborated Ainge. “I get all that and that’s not easy for players and for coaches and for executives that invest a lot into these players.
“It’s not easy for these office people that become great friends with the players. There’s a reality that I see and that’s what makes any sort of trade challenging. But it’s just part of the world that we live in, but it’s got to be done.”
In addition to Kyrie Irving, the Celtics added Gordon Hayward this offseason. Conversely, they lost Avery Bradley, and the combination of moves leaves a lot of room for speculation. Despite the influx of move, Ainge doesn’t regret anything.
“You’ve got to do what’s best for the franchise. The franchise is bigger than all of us. Bigger than one individual.”
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