The basketball world was shocked upon discovering Kyrie Irving’s desire to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason, his surprising trade request coming during a July 7 meeting with the club. The Cavs were in the midst of searching for a new general manager and were completely unprepared for what hit them.
And then Koby Altman arrived.
Altman, who was hired as general manager just two weeks after Irving requested a trade, worked tirelessly on moving the four-time NBA All-Star only hours into his new job. He eventually reached agreement on a deal with Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics, but not everyone was fully on board with the decision to move Irving.
Following from Dave McMenamin in an ESPN.com story:
“That was awesome,” Altman deadpans. “Talk about getting your texts, your phone blowing up. It was like, ‘Congratulations (for getting the job), but how do you want to move Kyrie?'”
His coach, Tyronn Lue, advised they hold onto Irving, just like the Los Angeles Lakers did when Lue’s former teammate Bryant demanded a trade.
“We wanted to figure out, is this real?” Altman says. “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 Cavs, of course, chose to move on from Irving and bring in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and a 2018 first-round pick in a deal with Boston just days after Altman was hired. Kyrie Irving has since moved on as well, leading his Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the East through 40 games.
Cleveland has yet to use Isaiah Thomas, who’s set to make his debut tonight against Portland, or its No. 1 pick, which can be dealt for assets or used on a young prospect in June’s NBA Draft.
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