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Though he’s never publicly said as much, LeBron James reportedly was not happy with how the Cleveland Cavaliers negotiated the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
In August, reports leaked the said the Cavaliers and Celtics had hammered out the framework of a deal that would send Irving to Beantown in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.
The Cavaliers, though, balked and almost scrapped the deal entirely after examining Thomas’ medical records in regards to the torn labrum in his right hip.
Cleveland extracted a 2020 second-round draft pick from Boston to cement the deal, which went down Aug. 22.
It was the fact the Cavaliers were not able to leverage more in return for Irving that didn’t sit well with James, according to a story by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin.
Per the report:
Had the Cavs backed out, which they considered doing for several days, the Celtics would have been in a tough position. They had already celebrated Irving’s arrival and would have alienated Thomas and Jae Crowder. Adding to the Cavs’ leverage was the nature of Thomas’ hip injury becoming public, thereby further diminishing his trade value and putting Boston in an even tighter spot if the deal fell through.
When the dust settled, the fact that Cleveland got only a second-round pick after pausing the deal — and not an additional first-rounder or young player such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or Terry Rozier — didn’t just disappoint James as a basketball player. It disappointed him as a businessman.
Turns out, James’ concerns were valid. Thomas played only 15 games with the Cavaliers, who went 7-8 in those games. He averaged 14.7 points, while shooting 36.1 percent from the field.
He was traded, along with Channing Frye and the Cavaliers’ 2018 first-round draft choice, to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
All will be on the floor tonight at Staples Center when the Cavaliers (38-27) take on the Lakers (29-36).