The Celtics celebrated the topping off of the Auerbach Center at New Balance World Headquarters in Brighton Wednesday morning on the heels of a blockbuster trade. Before the ceremony at their new practice facility, co-owner Wyc Grousbeck touched on how the trade for Kyrie Irving was one that needed to be made after the Celtics fell short in the Eastern Conference finals last season against the Cavaliers.
“We got bounced pretty hard last year in the playoffs, and then those guys got bounced pretty hard after that,” Grousbeck said. “So we didn’t feel we were at the top, we didn’t feel we were where we wanted to be, so that’s what you do when you run a team — you do what you have to do to try to get better.”
Grousbeck said he was hands-on in the discussions along with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. The Celtics and Cavaliers went back and forth with offers until the deal was made sending Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a first-round pick to Cleveland for Irving, a four-time All-Star.
“Kyrie is a transcendent talent,” Grousbeck said of the 25 year-old point guard. “We are excited to put him together with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Marcus Smart. We want this team to go for Banner 18, and we need to get the best possible players to do that, and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Thomas is entering the final year of his contract and coming off a hip injury that sidelined him for the majority of the Eastern finals. Grousbeck declined to comment on whether the team had concerns about paying the 28-year-old Thomas significant money.
“We don’t really talk about hypothetical contract discussions,” Grousbeck said. “We are really excited about the trade, although it’s bittersweet to let somebody go like IT, let somebody go like Jae.”
Mayor Marty Walsh, who was a guest speaker at the ceremony, also commented on losing Thomas, saying, “People loved him, and Isaiah was great for us. We weren’t expected to get what we got out of Isaiah when he came to this city, and we are going to miss him. But we wish him well.
“In sports, like anything, it’s a business, unfortunately, and you’ve got to move on.”
The Celtics and Cavaliers are set to open the regular season Oct. 17 in Cleveland, while Thomas and Crowder’s first game back at TD Garden will be Jan. 3.
“Both teams are going to be trying to beat the other one into a pulp and win by 40 points,” said Grousbeck. “I don’t even know what to think. It’s amazing we are playing them the first game.”