Danny Ainge Said Telling Isaiah Thomas He Was Traded Was The ‘Toughest’ Call He’s Ever Made

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The Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving trade is finally done and can’t be undone. Everyone involved with the deal has made peace with it, and both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics have introduced their respective new players and can now prepare for the upcoming season.

But the emotions of a trade like that — one that considerably alters the landscape of the Eastern Conference — take time to process. Thomas processed those emotions in a letter he wrote in The Players’ Tribune last week, recalling how his son was excited his father would get to play with LeBron James.

Thomas himself addressed the call Boston general manager Danny Ainge made where he told the point guard he had been traded to Cleveland as part of a package that landed the Celtics Kyrie Irving. Thomas admitted “that sh*t hurt” when he first found out about the deal. And the Celtics GM admitted that it was difficult for him to make the call as well.

Ainge also told The Boston Globe that telling Thomas he was traded was “the toughest call” he’s made as a GM.

“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.

Ainge praised the piece Thomas wrote about the call, saying it was “fabulous.”
“He was honest and he shared the feelings that he had in that. It was a really tough thing for everybody,” Ainge told the paper. “I feel for players. I’ve been a player. I’ve been traded and I understand it, and I thought the writing he did was superb.”

Ainge noted that “it’s not easy” for front office members to trade players, either. And he made it clear it was an emotional call for both men. But it’s still a decision that Ainge alone made. Thomas didn’t want to leave Boston, but the Celtics GM thought his team would be better off without him. That doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye, though.