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.
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.
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.