Published On: Wed, Oct 11th, 2017

Ainge defends Thomas-Irving swap: We gave up 'good' for 'great' option

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Brian Babineau / National Basketball Association / Getty

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge shipped a king’s ransom to his main conference rival to land Kyrie Irving, and he’s not looking back.

Ainge swapped Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the highly coveted pick of the Brooklyn Netsburning bridges with the former heart and soul of his franchise in the process – in order to field a new Big Three with Irving, Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward.

In Ainge’s estimation, it was a simple case of trading “good” for “great.”

“Both Boston and Cleveland were very aware of who our trading partners were,” Ainge told Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal. “We know Cleveland is our greatest competition in the East right now and we know we are giving them some good players, some good options.

“We felt like we are getting a great one.”

Related: Thomas still loves Celtics, but might not talk to Ainge again

It’s mostly a matter of preference on the subject of Irving versus Thomas. Irving is the more accomplished player with a longer track record, but Thomas had an undeniably better regular season last year as his name was floated in MVP discussions for his heroics with the Celtics.

Ainge evidently liked Irving more, and he was even willing to overlook the awkwardness of dealing with a rival to make it happen.

“You know what, I think dealing with Cleveland, it’s not ideal. It’s not ideal to deal with your rival. They probably had some trepidation and vice versa, but ultimately it was just trying to do what was best to build our team,” Ainge said.

“Cleveland is getting our best point guard and we are getting their best point guard. It’ll be interesting to see how that all works.”

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