The Cleveland Cavaliers’ decision to trade Kyrie Irving this offseason wasn’t without question, and it now has become clear that Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue wanted to hang on to the All-Star point guard.
Irving made clear almost immediately after general manager Koby Altman took over the team during the summer that he wanted to play elsewhere, and Altman honored that request by sending him to the Boston Celtics.
But Lue suggested treating the situation a bit differently, as noted in a longform piece about Altman on ESPN by Dave McMenamin.
“His coach, Tyronn Lue, advised they hold onto Irving, just like the Los Angeles Lakers did when Lue’s former teammate (Kobe) Bryant demanded a trade,” McMenamin wrote.
“We wanted to figure out, is this real?” Altman said to McMenamin. “Is Kyrie someone we might want to bring back and say, ‘Hey, look, players have figured it out in the past. You’re going to figure it out. We’re going to still be really good, we’re going to be winning games, so it’s not going to be all awful.’ You know what I mean? So thinking about the parameters of that, the implications of that was something we were also always debating.”
The Cavs certainly brought in a haul of their own in the trade, with the return including veterans Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. And while Irving has played out of his mind in Boston, the “winner” of the deal won’t be realized until Thomas gets some playing time in with Cleveland.
But even in the moment, Altman recognized the magnitude of the transaction.
“You can’t get better trading a four-time All-Star going into his prime and a 25-year-old point guard going into his prime,” Altman continued, “but it gives you a unique opportunity to shuffle the deck and figure out long-term planning, but also figure out what goes around LeBron that’s going to help us win a championship.”
The Cavs aren’t alone, because it certainly gave the Celtics a unique opportunity as well.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images.