The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a trade that will send Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas and others.
Cleveland's All-Star point guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn's 2018 first-round draft pick.
The Celtics posted this reaction from their executives shortly after the trade.
“Kyrie is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He has proven that on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals, the last three years,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “He’s been an NBA Champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a four-time All-Star. For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him.”
“Isaiah and Jae have been a huge part of our success,” said Celtics Co-Owner and Governing Partner Wyc Grousbeck. “Isaiah’s playoff performance under very difficult circumstances will live on in history, and we wish them all the best.”
Since Irving made his request, the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers have been looking for a trade partner. They found the perfect one in the Celtics, who will now build around Irving and newly signed free agent Gordon Hayward.
Irving, who made the biggest shot in Cleveland history to win the 2016 NBA Finals, joins a Boston team that lost to Cleveland in last season's conference finals and has been unable to unseat LeBron James and Co. in recent years.
The Cavs were concerned about getting equivalent value for Irving, who has two years remaining on his contract, but in the 5-foot-9 Thomas they are adding one of the league's most dynamic playmakers. Thomas, 28, averaged 28.9 points last season. He missed most of the East finals with a hip injury.
A four-time All-Star, Irving has spent six seasons with the Cavs, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. The 25-year-old has overcome injury issues and blossomed into one of the league's elite point guards and biggest stars. He averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 5.8 assists in 72 games last season.
Irving is under contract for two more seasons with Cleveland, with a player option in 2020. His father, Drederick Irving, played for Boston University and is a member of the BU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Thomas departs Boston after endearing himself to the fans.
“Isaiah embodied what it meant to be a Celtic. He captured fans’ hearts not only with his spirit, but his personality,” said Ainge. “Jae’s toughness was contaigious for our team. He improved his skills each year, but it’s his energy and fight that will be remembered. We wish them and their families the very best.”
The new-look Celtics are scheduled to open their season against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Oct. 17.