INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Isaiah Thomas said the Boston Celtics he left behind were as shocked as he was when he was traded to the Cavaliers.
“After all you did, that’s how they do you,” Thomas said to cleveland.com. “That was everybody’s text message. … I can’t control that and my teammates know what I meant to that team and the organization knows and that’s what matters the most. The people I was around each and every day.
“But I think not just myself, everybody was surprised. Everybody.”
Thomas was introduced as a Cavalier Thursday, along with Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic. They were traded to the Cavs last month — along with two draft picks — for Kyrie Irving.
Thomas, 28, who played hurt for the Celtics last season and with a heavy heart in the playoffs after the death of his sister, was the team’s best player the past two seasons. He was an All-Star twice and an All-NBA selection and was third in the NBA in scoring last season at 28.9 points per game — leading the Celtics past Cleveland and into first place in the East.
But Thomas’ hip injury will apparently cause him to miss at least a portion of the season.
“It definitely caught me off guard, but it also woke me up,” Thomas said of being traded. “It made me realize that this is a business and anybody other than probably LeBron James or Kevin Durant or those type of guys can be traded. I prayed on it, I thought about it, I slept on it and I’m thankful for this opportunity.
“I’m blessed to be able to be traded to a situation where–realistically– we can win a championship next year.”
Crowder was another valuable component of the Celtics’ core the last three seasons, which included two playoff battles against the Cavs. He’s a 6-6 wing defender who play multiple positions. He averaged 13.9 points and shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range last season.
“I got the phone call, he said, ‘Good thing I’m going with you,'” Crowder said, relaying a conversation he’d had with Thomas. “That makes the transition a lot easier for us. I just got traded to Boston a couple months before he did (in 2014-15) so, and they was talking about tanking and we was like, ‘What’s that? Lose on purpose? That’s not going to happen, so from that point on we clicked and we knew we were on the same page with basketball and from that point on the rest is history.”
When the trade was first announced Aug. 22, Crowder was with his ailing mother in Atlanta. She died of cancer that night.
“I was able to whisper to my Mom before she passed,” Crowder said. “I just told her I’m going to Cleveland,’ and five minutes later she passed. That day was tough, but it was a good day for myself, for my basketball career to move onto an organization like this, like the Cleveland Cavaliers.”