The Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to trade All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for a package led by fellow All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas on Tuesday.
The teams confirmed the Celtics also sent forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick to the Cavaliers.
“Kyrie is one of the best scorers in the NBA,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said in a prepared statement. “He has proven that on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals, the last three years. He’s been an NBA Champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a four-time All-Star. For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him.”
Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said in a statement, “This trade needed to include both players and assets that we felt strongly could help us continue to compete for championships, and we believe it does. We look forward to Isaiah, Jae and Ante joining us and also felt that the unprotected first-round pick in the deal was very important for us and our future as well.”
Irving, who made headlines earlier in the summer when it leaked that he had requested a trade, moves on from a Cavaliers squad that reached the NBA Finals in each of the past three seasons and won a championship in 2016.
“On behalf of the entire franchise, I want to thank Kyrie Irving for the six impressive years he spent in Cleveland wearing the Cavaliers uniform,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said in a statement. “From the moment we won the 2011 NBA lottery that put us in position to draft Kyrie to the ‘The Shot’ that sealed our first NBA championship and all of the electrifying play that made him a joy to watch, ‘excitement’ was always in the air when it came to Kyrie Irving. We wish him and his family well as he moves on to the next phase of his NBA career.”
Irving joins a Celtics squad that finished first in the Eastern Conference during the regular season last season but was bounced by the Cavaliers in five games the Eastern Conference finals. Thomas missed the last three games of the series with a hip injury, and he might not be ready for the start of training camp.
“Isaiah and Jae have been a huge part of our success,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said in a statement. “Isaiah’s playoff performance under very difficult circumstances will live on in history, and we wish them all the best.”
Irving, 25, averaged a career-high 25.2 points on 47.3 percent shooting and 5.8 assists last season. He has three years and $60 million remaining on his contract.
Thomas, a 28-year-old who finished third in the NBA with an average of 28.9 points in 2016-17, will be a free agent after the 2017-18 campaign.
Irving was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft while Thomas was the last pick, 60th, in the same draft.
“Isaiah embodied what it meant to be a Celtic,” Ainge said. “He captured fans’ hearts not only with his spirit, but his personality. Jae’s toughness was contagious for our team. He improved his skills each year, but it’s his energy and fight that will be remembered. We wish them and their families the very best.”
The Celtics and Cavaliers open the season in Cleveland on Oct. 17.