Danny Ainge responds to Isaiah Thomas and defends decision to trade him

Boston Celtics Media Day

Isaiah Thomas was involved in the biggest trade of the offseason as the Boston Celtics sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving.

The point guard led the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and finished fifth in the MVP voting after a terrific season.

IT developed into an All-NBA player in Boston and enjoyed a career year where he posted 28.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 rebounds.

He admitted that he felt "hurt" by the franchise's decision to trade him as he "fell in love with Boston".

In a recent interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, Thomas admitted that he may never speak to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge again as a result.

Ainge was surprised by Isaiah's comments but understood his reasons for feeling that way.

"Did he really (say that)?" Ainge asked reporters on Wednesday.

"You know, that's the hard part of the job. I mean, I know there is a lot of feelings that go on when these type of things happen. I was a player that was traded twice, so I understand his sentiments, but you guys know how much I love Isaiah. He's a great kid and I wish him the best."

But Ainge certainly doesn't regret his decision to acquire Irving from the Cavs and believes they gave up a good player to get a great one.

"Both Boston and Cleveland were very aware of who our trading partners were," Ainge told Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal. "We know Cleveland is our greatest competition in the East right now and we know we are giving them some good players, some good options.

"We felt like we are getting a great one."

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets

As well as Thomas, the C's gave up Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 unprotected first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick, via the Miami Heat, to get Kyrie.

The 25-year-old is a four-time All-Star and an NBA champion but there's no doubt that Isaiah had the better campaign last year.

But with IT being just a few months short of turning 29, Ainge and the organisation felt it was a terrific opportunity to give him up in return for a player who is yet to enter his prime and has the best years of his career ahead of him, even if it meant dealing with a rival.

"You know what, I think dealing with Cleveland, it's not ideal. It's not ideal to deal with your rival. They probably had some trepidation and vice versa, but ultimately it was just trying to do what was best to build our team," Ainge said.

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

"Cleveland is getting our best point guard and we are getting their best point guard. It'll be interesting to see how that all works."

This adds a little extra spice to the rivalry brewing between the two teams and their opening night encounter in Cleveland on Tuesday.

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