Isaiah Thomas said he might never talk to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge again after he traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a strong statement, and one that was clearly disappointing to Ainge.
Thomas’ words came out in a Sports Illustrated story that dropped on Wednesday. Later in the day, reporters speaking to Ainge informed him that, while Thomas has “love” for Boston and his former teammates and fans there, coming around on the guy that abruptly traded him after a difficult, emotional season will be much harder.
Ainge seemed disappointed when told that Thomas might not ever talk to him again.
“Did he, really?” Ainge asked in the middle of the reporter’s question. It was clear that he hadn’t seen the full story in SI, but when asked for his response the GM erred to the side of sadness rather than anger.
“You know, that’s the hard part of the job. I know that there’s a lot of feelings that go on when these type of things happen. He was a player that was traded twice, so I understand his sentiments but he doesn’t know how much I love Isaiah. He’s a great kid and I wish him the best.”
Ainge said he hasn’t talked to him since the awkward exchange they had when he first told him he was traded. He was asked if he would try to talk to Thomas again in the future, and he gave a tentative yes but seemed hesitatent to say anything for sure until he saw what Thomas had said.
“I don’t know. I would try to but I have no idea. That takes two people,” Ainge said. “Obviously he said some things today and already has some strong feelings and strong emotions and I understand them.”
It’s clear Ainge is upset here, upset that he made Thomas mad and that it’s something he probably can’t fix for a long time. It’s Ainge’s job to do what’s best for his team, and if he thinks moving Thomas in favor of Kyrie Irving is the right move he has to do it. But GMs are people, too, and it’s clear he cares for Thomas and valued their relationship.
Thomas made it clear he won’t be seeking revenge when he finally takes the court for the Cavaliers. But maybe, in time, he and Ainge can find a way to repair their relationship.