If LeBron James was general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving still would be his teammate right now.
James wasn’t consulted in Cleveland’s decision to trade Irving and wasn’t on board with the move, the Cavs star confirmed in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that aired Wednesday.
“Even if you start back to the summertime where I felt like it was just bad for our franchise just to be able to trade away our superstar point guard,” James said, via ESPN.com.
“A guy that I had been in so many battles with over the last three years, and obviously I wasn’t a part of the communications and know exactly what went on between the two sides. But I just felt like it was bad timing for our team.”
There already were plenty of reports indicating James wasn’t on board with the August 2017 blockbuster that sent Irving to the Cavs’ rival, the Boston Celtics, in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zicic and the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
But these are pretty candid remarks from LeBron, who previously has shied away from publicly discussing what led to Irving’s Cleveland departure.
James speaks with the benefit of hindsight, of course, but his foreboding was warranted: Thomas played in just 15 games for the Cavs before Cleveland dealt him to the Angeles Lakers, forcing James to shoulder a heavy load while carrying a weak supporting cast to another NBA Finals date with the Golden State Warriors.
“I felt like the odds were against us from the summer,” James added. “And then you know we come into the season, and our All-Star point guard that we got from Boston wasn’t able to play until January. We just had so many things going with our team. We shuffled in different lineups, we shuffled in different players, we made a trade at the deadline, and I can’t sit here right now and say that the Finals was a part of my thinking.”
Check out LeBron’s full interview with Nichols below.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images