Celtics throw in 2nd-round pick to complete trade for Kyrie Irving
After one of the most unusual stretches in Celtics transaction history, the team has completed its trade for Kyrie Irving, ending six days of buyer’s remorse by Cleveland.
The Cavaliers first contacted the Celtics on Tuesday night about adding assets to the trade — the result of a less-than-positive Isaiah Thomas physical Friday – and Danny Ainge budged ever so slightly last night. The extra sweetener is a 2020 second-round pick, to go along with a package that already includes Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, rookie center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick for Irving.
Cleveland’s haul still is considered a lucrative price for sending Irving to the Celtics.
Former Cavs general manager David Griffin, replaced this summer by his former assistant Koby Altman, applauded the quality of this Celtics package during an appearance Tuesday night on NBA TV.
“I think that trade is so good that if Isaiah is not ready immediately, it’s not going to be a sign that it was a bad deal for Cleveland,” Griffin said. “I think they still follow through because the Crowder piece is so good in terms of value to production, and the value of that Brooklyn pick is exceptional as well. Koby has made a great trade here, no matter how this plays out, but I do think there must be worry on the part of Cleveland or this wouldn’t be held up like this.”
Thomas insisted all summer his recovery and rest from a torn labrum in his right hip is on track, and he most recently drove the point home Tuesday with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thomas is entering a perilous time, with free agency and his vocalized goal of a maximum contract looming next summer. Though the Cavaliers are concerned Thomas will need a greater period of time than initially thought to begin playing — he has not done much, if any, basketball-related activity this summer — he told the league Tuesday he’ll be fine.
Beginning with the declaration that “I’m not damaged,” Thomas insisted he will return to the form that produced the second-highest single-season scoring average (28.9) in Celtics history.
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” he told ESPN. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
The Celtics remain confident they were forthright in sharing information with Cleveland. Team physician Brian McKeon and his staff had extensive conversations with their Cavaliers counterparts.
Ainge, the C’s president of basketball operations, did not offer a timeline for Thomas’ return during his negotiations with Altman, and was equally vague on the subject during a conference call the night of the trade. He allowed that there was a chance Thomas would not be ready for the start of the season.
Cleveland, though, thought worse of Thomas’ condition following last Friday’s physical. Multiple reports had Cavaliers management deciding to ask for more from the Celtics, including young players Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, though Ainge told Altman early on in negotiations both players were off the table.
Before last night’s sweetener was thrown in, the Cavaliers reportedly were searching for a better last-minute deal. A Milwaukee package of Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, forward Khris Middleton and a possible pick was reported by ESPN, but a Bucks source told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that no such talks had taken place.