LAS VEGAS – It was a bittersweet start to the day for Boston Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas.
The Celtics had found a way to create enough salary cap space to sign free agent Gordon Hayward, but the price of salary cap flexibility to make the Hayward signing a reality was the trading away his best friend on the team and fellow Tacoma, Wash. native, Avery Bradley.
Boston completed a trade with the Detroit Pistons on Friday that sent Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick to Detroit in exchange for Marcus Morris.
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“He’s meant everything,” Thomas said in an exclusive interview with CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely at the Las Vegas Summer League. “That’s one of my best friends, someone I grew up with. To wake up and see that this morning … that’s the business of the game.”
The bond between Thomas and Bradley goes much deeper than sharing the same hometown.
When Thomas’ sister died in a car crash shortly before the start of the playoffs in April, it was Bradley who broke the news to him and maybe more than any other player, was there to console Thomas during his time of mourning.
“It definitely hurt to see him have to go,” said Thomas, who added that he had reached out to Bradley but had not yet been able to reach him. “With me being traded I know how that is.”
Thomas said he will see Bradley back in Washington in a few days because a mutual friend of theirs is getting married.
The Celtics are expected to consummate the addition of Gordon Hayward who agreed to leave Utah after seven seasons for a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the fourth year being a player option.
As tough as it was for Thomas to see one of his best friends traded, he realizes just how significant adding Hayward to the roster will be for the Celtics to build off the success of last season.
Boston finished with the best record in the East (53-29) and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they lost to Cleveland in five games.
“Another star, we need it,” Thomas said of Hayward who like Thomas, was named to the NBA All-Star team last season. “Somebody that’s going to help our team right off the bat; somebody that can hopefully get us over the hump and get us to the NBA Finals and hopefully we can compete for a championship.”