Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas swapping cities was the blockbuster trade of the summer, but Tyronn Lue was against the idea.

On Aug. 30, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round pick and the Miami Heat‘s 2020 second-round pick. It rattled the basketball world. Tyronn Lue, who spent three seasons coaching Irving, wasn’t a fan of the idea and wanted new GM Koby Altman to hold onto the rising star.

“We wanted to figure out, is this real?” said Altman to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Is Kyrie someone we might want to bring back and say, ‘Hey, look, players have figured it out in the past. You’re going to figure it out. We’re going to still be really good, we’re going to be winning games, so it’s not going to be all awful.’ You know what I mean? So thinking about the parameters of that, the implications of that was something we were also always debating.”

Irving made his fourth All-Star team and was coming off the best season of his career. In 72 games, he averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists while marching to his third-straight NBA Finals.

The trade request was the result of Irving wanting the opportunity to lead a team. He had spent three years in the shadow of LeBron James and appeared to be fed up. Cleveland picked Boston. Oddly enough, neither team improved but also didn’t get worse.

“You can’t get better trading a four-time All-Star going into his prime and a 25-year-old point guard going into his prime,” continued Altman, “but it gives you a unique opportunity to shuffle the deck and figure out long-term planning, but also figure out what goes around LeBron that’s going to help us win a championship.”

Isaiah Thomas turns 29 on Feb. 7 and is in the last year of his contract. Cleveland wants to win a championship, and Thomas, when healthy, can serve the same role that Irving did — a dynamic point guard who can create a bucket at will.

Boston, whose core is still in their infancy, benefits from Irving because they’re playing for a couple of years in the future. Danny Ainge has built a team that’s in position to own the post-LeBron-Eastern Conference.

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