Danny Ainge on Isaiah Thomas Trade to Cavaliers: 'I Don't Know What We Owe Him'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers' Isaiah Thomas smiles during a news conference at the teams practice facility, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Independence, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

If the Boston Celtics eventually hope to repair their relationship with Isaiah Thomas, it may not happen until Danny Ainge departs. 

The Celtics general manager appeared on WEEI ahead of Tuesday's season-opening matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers and made it clear he felt little sympathy for Thomas' frustration at being traded.

"I don't know what we owe him," Ainge said. "We gave him an opportunity while he was here."

Thomas, who was traded to Cleveland as part of a package to land Kyrie Irving, has publicly admitted to being hurt by the move. He specifically expressed dismay with Ainge, telling Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins he "might not ever talk to Danny again."

"Boston is going to be all love," Thomas told Jenkins. "I might not ever talk to Danny again. That might not happen. I'll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don't do that, bro. That's not right. I'm not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, 'We made a mistake.' That's what they'll say, too."

Thomas grew into a two-time All-Star in Boston and developed a kinship with Celtics fans, thanks in large part to his underdog status. Twice traded and seldom viewed as an elite NBA player, Thomas put up numbers every bit as good as Irving last season to lead the Celtics to the East's No. 1 seed. He also played through a hip injury that will cost him much of the 2017-18 campaign and suited up after the tragic death of his sister.

"I already said what I'm doing. I'm going to keep it pushing like he kept pushing when he traded me," Thomas said of Ainge, per Ty Anderson of WEEI. "I'm not going to disrespect him. He's a man and I'm a man, too. Like, I'm going to go my way. I play for the Cavaliers and that's what it is."

Ainge, who was traded twice during his playing days, previously said he understands Thomas' dismay but has not spoken to him since the deal. 

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