When in a business as demanding as the NBA, job security can be rather fragile for some players around the association. While that wasn’t thought of to be the case for MVP candidate and All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, when Kyrie Irving became a real option, Celtics president Danny Ainge decided to pull the trigger on trading away the 5’9″ dynamo.
Trades and roster adjustments are made often in the NBA and Ainge may know this better than anyone. Now entering his 15th season as an executive with Boston, Ainge has been one of the league’s masterminds when it comes to dealing players, doing so often during his tenure with the Celtics.
Though Ainge has been forced to make countless decisions regarding his roster, he says trading Isaiah Thomas was the ‘toughest call’ that he has ever had to make in his career as a part of the Celtics front office. Following from Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:
“It was definitely the toughest call I ever had to make,” Ainge said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest that I don’t share all the reasons [for the trade]. But the bottom line is obviously I felt like it was the right thing for our franchise to do. But it’s a deep and complicated process. It’s not as simple as people think it is.
“And again, being a player in professional sports for 18 years and being traded twice and signing as a free agent once and playing on championship teams and being a coach in this league and being an executive for as long as I have, I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on all of the emotions and I have a pretty good understanding how real this all is involving players and their lives and their families and the disruptions and the emotions. I get all that and that’s not easy for players and for coaches and for executives that invest a lot into these players.
While other players may have done more for this Boston franchise, it’s hard to argue that anyone fought harder while wearing Celtic green than Isaiah Thomas. His gutsy performances resulted in a close bond being formed between himself and the city he played in, making him a fan favorite and he was also likely beloved by the Boston front office.
But Ainge did what he thought was best for the franchise, trading IT and other pieces to the Cavs in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Thomas himself was ‘hurt’ by the trade but at the end of the day, this league is a business driven by results and Boston is hoping they got better from this transaction, no matter how tough it was to pull off for all sides.