Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics have acquired NBA Champion Kyrie Irving, after trading point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder and center Ante Zizic to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving will line up alongside the Celtics’ other new appointment, Gordon Hayward, to form a formidable combination. NBA fans in the UK will be able to watch perennial All-Star Irving play first hand when he comes to London in January to play in the NBA London Game 2018 at The O2.

The 25-year-old has already had an impressive career with four All-Star appearances, an NBA All-Star Game MVP and an NBA Championship to his name. As one of the most talented offensive players in the league, Irving will be able to give the Celtics a chance of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations, said he is “very excited” about the prospect of Irving joining their ranks.

Ainge also said of Irving: “He’s an NBA Champion, and Olympic Champion, an All-Star with some of his best years ahead of him at just 25-years-old. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with Kyrie and getting a chance to see him in a Celtic uniform. Kyrie is a great fit, he is at a great age and experience which is a great fit for us and where we are with our younger players. His ability to score in a variety of ways, shooting threes and getting to the basket, is elite.”

Ainge also spoke of how difficult it was to trade Isaiah Thomas, saying: “Trading both guys was tough, but Isaiah just had an amazing season this year and entertained us all, the whole city of Boston and everybody fell in love with him. He’s such an underdog because of his size and his heart and his spirit with which he plays. It was very challenging to make this decision.”

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

 On how the trade panned out…

This has obviously been a rollercoaster of a day for us, trading Isaiah and Jae and Ante, especially Isaiah and Jae who have been such a big part of our team and our success and our Celtic culture as leaders of our team. Very very difficult day and at the same time a very exciting time for one of the best offensive players in the league. An NBA Champion, and Olympic Champion, an All-Star with some of his best years ahead of him at just 25-years-old. Looking forward to the opportunity of working with Kyrie and getting a chance to see him in a Celtic uniform.

On how the trade came about…

It [the opportunity] presented itself it wasn’t available earlier in the summer this same opportunity. These are very difficult decisions as you can imagine. We face these difficult decisions at all times during the year you never know when something may present itself. But an opportunity for us presented itself even though it is a high price tag, it is a great value that we’re giving up. We love Isaiah, we love Jae Crowder and we’re just getting to know Ante Zizic who we’ve watched and nurtured over the last year and given up a quality first round pick. But acquiring a 25-year-old perennial All-Star, a player that fits a timeline for us and is a fantastic offensive player, one of the best offensive players in the league. You have to pay a heavy price.

On the timeline for the trade…

I don’t remember the exact timeline but we’ve been in discussions with Cleveland for quite a while but this particular deal wasn’t available to us. But we’ve have conversations throughout the summer with different teams and different trade possibilities. And in particular with Cleveland what applies to us right now in trying to acquire Kyrie but this deal that we made today was not available a month ago.

On how it felt trading Isaiah Thomas…

Trading both guys was tough but Isaiah just had an amazing season this year and entertained the whole city of Boston, everybody and us all fell in love with him. He’s such an underdog because of his size and his heart and his spirit which he plays. It was very challenging to make this decision.

There’s going to be a little bit of a delay for Isaiah when he starts the season but I think that Isaiah should be fine and healthy as the season goes along.

On Irving’s fit in the Celtics team…

Kyrie is a great fit, he is at a great age and experience which is a great fit for us and where we are with our younger players. His ability to score in a variety of ways, shooting threes and getting to the basket is elite. He has been to the last three NBA Finals and at his age is very unique and very special.

On being able to trade for a player such as Irving… 

I think it’s extremely rare to be able to trade for a 25-year-old player that has done what he’s done. We know we have paid a heavy price and we loved the guys that we had here and we didn’t really want to give up any of those pieces to make this deal work, but we’re excited to have Kyrie.

 

The Philadelphia 76ers will host the Boston Celtics at The O2 on January 11; to sign up for early access to tickets, exclusive offers and the latest team news, please visit www.NBA.com/London

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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