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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Danny Ainge opens up about decision to trade Isaiah Thomas

Danny Ainge Celtics

Trading Isaiah Thomas was not exactly one of Danny Ainge’s more popular moves, but now he’s speaking out about the decision to pull the trigger.

In an interview with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that ran on Sunday, the Boston Celtics general manager discussed making the tough call to deal Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a package for Kyrie Irving.

“I’ll leave it to your own imaginations to realize how difficult that conversation might have been, for me and Isaiah,” said Ainge. “Isaiah had just an amazing season this year and entertained us all, the whole city of Boston, and everyone fell in love with him. He’s such an underdog because of his size and his heart and his spirit in which he plays. It was very challenging to make this decision.”

Thomas’ 2016-17 campaign was nothing short of heroic — his 28.9 points per game were almost a footnote in a season where he led the Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the East and a Conference Finals berth, playing through lost teeth, a significant hip injury, and the tragic death of his sister along the way. But he was traded away rather hastily, after recruiting Gordon Hayward to the team no less, in a decision that rubbed both fans and players the wrong way.

Of course, Ainge is never one to get caught up in sentimentality — this is the same man who traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013 and also dealt a Celtics lifer in Avery Bradley in July. We’ll just have to wait and see if Boston’s future with Irving is ultimately worth the hit to Ainge’s popularity.

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