Danny Ainge responded to allegedly being called a ‘thief’ by a Cavs player

"Time will tell on all these trades, but at the time, we were criticized for giving up too much."

Danny Ainge Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge in April, 2018. –Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Whether or not a Cleveland Cavaliers player actually called Danny Ainge a “fu—– thief” remains unconfirmed. Regardless, Ainge was more than willing to respond to the charge.

The Celtics’ president of basketball operations was asked about the alleged remark (reported by The Athletic on Wednesday) during an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich.

“First of all, time will tell,” Ainge said. “But that pick that we gave them had the chance to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. It turned out to be No. 8, but who knows? They may get a really good player with the eighth pick in this year’s draft. There are some very good players at the top of the draft.”

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Ainge then expanded on his thoughts regarding the trade, alluding to Cleveland’s subsequent decision to trade both Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder after acquiring them in the Irving deal.

“They turned Isaiah and Jae Crowder into other pieces, Clarkson and Hood and so forth,” Ainge noted. “Time will tell on all these trades, but at the time, we were criticized for giving up too much. And we gave up a lot. We liked Jae Crowder and we liked Isaiah Thomas. And we liked that Brooklyn pick.”

In his final analysis, Ainge defended himself against the charge of being labelled a thief.

“I thought it was a fair trade at the time,” Ainge reasoned. “Both key players in Isaiah and Kyrie aren’t playing in this series, which is interesting, but we liked the trade for us then and we like it now. Hopefully it works out for both teams.”

The Celtics currently lead the Cavaliers 2-0 in the the Eastern Conference Finals. The series resumes in Cleveland on Saturday.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the Cavaliers traded Jae Crowder to the Lakers. He was traded to Utah. Boston.com regrets the error.

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