Tyronn Lue Advised Cavaliers to Keep Kyrie Irving Before Eventual Celtics Trade

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2018

FILE  - In this April 20, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, left, talks with head coach Tyronn Lue durng the second half of an NBA basketball playoff game against the Detroit Pistons in Cleveland. With Washington and Boston headed to a Game 7 on Monday, Cleveland's break since sweeping Toronto in the second round just grew a little longer. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers' decision to trade guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics during the offseason, head coach Tyronn Lue urged general manager Koby Altman to keep the disgruntled star.

According to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Lue based his opinion on the Los Angeles Lakers' denial of Kobe Bryant's trade request in 2007, which allowed the sides to work things out.

The Cavs eventually dealt Irving to Boston in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round draft pick and the Miami Heat's 2020 second-round draft pick.

Altman described his thought process leading up to the trade:

"We wanted to figure out is this real? 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 trade has worked out well for the Celtics, as they are first in the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-10, putting them four games ahead of the third-place Cavs.

Irving is well on his way to a fifth career All-Star nod with per-game averages of 24.8 points, 4.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

The Cavs have been streaky in 2017-18, but they announced Thomas will make his team debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday after recovering from a hip injury.

Thomas is a two-time All-Star who averaged a career-high 28.9 points per game for the Celtics last season.

Irving and Thomas are set to face each other for the first time since the trade when Boston hosts Cleveland on Wednesday night.

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