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NBA: Cavs trade Irving to Celts for Thomas

CLEVELAND (AP) – Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland’s All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

“It’s extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that’s done what he’s done, the offensive weapon that he is,’’ Celtics president Danny Ainge said. “We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

“We have a player that’s proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber.’’

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship – and the city’s first title since 1964 – is on his way to Boston, where he’ll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season’s conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

“Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year,’’ Ainge said. “But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that’s why we did it.’’

The blockbuster deal caps a wild summer for the Cavs, who lost their title defense in five games to Golden State in June. Since then, general manager David Griffin left, the team failed to convince Chauncey Billups to join its front office and James has played with fans’ emotions with veiled postings on social media about his future.

Irving’s trade demand cast a shadow over the entire organization.

But Cleveland may have salvaged its offseason.

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