With Isaiah Thomas having returned to the Cavaliers on Tuesday, and the Cavs now poised to square off against the Celtics on Wednesday, it only makes sense to revisit one of the 2017 offseason’s biggest trades. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan has done just that, taking a deep dive into the factors that led to Kyrie Irving heading from Cleveland to Boston.
Along the way, MacMullan passes along several noteworthy tidbits — while the whole piece is worth checking out, especially for Cavs and Celtics fans, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting details below:
- While Irving made his trade request in July, the Cavaliers explored the possibility of moving the point guard in June, which MacMullan suggests contributed to Irving’s decision to ask out of Cleveland. “They didn’t want me there,” Irving said of the Cavs. Former teammate LeBron James disputes that notion, which he says “makes absolutely no sense.”
- One deal the Cavs explored in June would have sent Irving and Channing Frye to the Suns and resulted in both Paul George and Eric Bledsoe landing in Cleveland. However, Phoenix balked at that deal, since the club was unwilling to give up the No. 4 overall pick, says MacMullan. A few days later, the Pacers dealt George to the Thunder instead.
- Although no formal offer was made during those negotiations, Irving caught wind of the talks and believed they were orchestrated by James’ camp, since LeBron shares an agent with Bledsoe. Team and league sources suggest otherwise, telling MacMullan that former Cavs GM David Griffin sensed that an Irving trade request may be coming and initiated talks with the Suns.
- When Irving and his agent met with the Cavaliers on July 9, they pressed owner Dan Gilbert about the team’s direction, and mentioned the Spurs, Knicks, and Timberwolves as preferred landing spots for Irving. Boston didn’t come up during that meeting, but Gilbert coveted the Nets‘ 2018 first-round pick that was held by the Celtics, and Irving’s camp didn’t oppose a deal to the C’s.
- When the Celtics emerged as a viable trade partner for Irving and the Cavs, Gilbert went to James and attempted to secure a promise that he’d stay in Cleveland beyond the 2017/18 season, but LeBron declined to commit, sources tell MacMullan.