BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas has made no secret about still having some hard feelings towards Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, who traded him to Cleveland as part of a package that brought Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.
“This is the kind of thing that stinks about the job sometimes,” Ainge told NBC Sports Boston as part of their Celtics Season Preview show. “But I certainly understand his emotions. He’s been through a lot. He’s injured right now. He gave us a lot. There’s not any question about that. Maybe someday he’ll understand it better than he does right now.”
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The Celtics were not seriously looking into trading Thomas until Irving’s trade request became public knowledge in July.
Before the Celtics had a conversation with the Cavs about Irving, they knew any deal would have to include Thomas.
“Whenever star players become available, we always discuss them and look into them and see if this is a possibility for us and see what the cost is,” Ainge said. “That’s what happened in the Kyrie thing. We just went down that road.”
Ainge added, “Sometimes you have to do tough things. That was a really tough thing. [Thomas] gave us so much. He gave our organization so much."
And as far as Thomas saying he may not ever talk to Ainge again?
"I’ve had my children tell me worse things," Ainge said. "They do talk to me sometimes a month later. So, I hope that this will pass. But time will tell.”
There’s no question part of Thomas’ anger and resentment has to do with the emotional attachment he developed with the Celtics franchise.
“That was a difficult situation because he was 100 percent Celtic,” Ainge said. “And he had really bought in. We had bought in to him and he had bought in to us.”
While acknowledging the emotional connection that existed, Ainge is wise enough to know that can’t be a factor when it comes to potential trades. As a former player in the NBA who had been traded before, Ainge knows all too well how difficult it can be to keep emotions out of the equation.
“I have to do what’s best for the Celtics,” Ainge said. “This is not my team. This is the city of Boston’s team. We have a lot of people involved in these decisions which are very, very difficult. You have to take emotion out of it and do what’s best for the team, short-term and long-term.”