(FreshAsFrankie) The Boston Celtics have acquired All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick, the team announced Tuesday night.
Irving, 25, requested a trade during a July meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. At the time, Irving said he wanted to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wanted to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.
“This has obviously been a roller coaster of a day for us, trading away Isaiah and Jae and Ante, especially Isaiah and Jae who have been such big part of our team and our success and our Celtic culture as leaders of our team. Very, very difficult day,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “At the same time, a very exciting time [to add] one of the best offensive players in the league.”
Ainge said that it was a very tough phone call to inform Thomas, who had emerged as the face of the franchise since arriving at the trade deadline in February 2015.
Ainge also said the Celtics did their homework on Irving after his falling out with James in Cleveland and said the player was “excited” to be joining the Celtics. He also acknowledged that Irving’s price tag was high.
“It is a high price tag,” he said. “But acquiring a 25-year-old perennial All-Star, a player that fits a timeline for us, and is a fantastic offensive player, one of the best offensive players in the league, you have to pay a heavy price.”
Pressed on the difficulty of giving up the unprotected Brooklyn pick, Ainge noted, “We valued it from the time we got it and it’s still very valuable. Obviously, we value Kyrie more. It’s that simple.”
Irving has three years and $60 million left on his contract, but he can opt out of the final year before the 2019-20 season.