The Vardon piece (subscription required), highlighted how the Cavs and general manager Koby Altman agreed with James that the Irving trade to the Boston Celtics wouldn't happen, but "15 mins later, it did".
In other words, it was a complicated situation for Cleveland's brass: If James did indeed want the team to keep Irving but he had the potential to leave, what should the Cavaliers done?
James was adamant on the call - do not trade Irving, especially to the Celtics.
According to four separate accounts of the conversation, Altman told James the trade would not occur. Shortly after the assurance, however, the trade was in fact made, with Irving going to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn's 2018 first-round pick.
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James' close friend, Randy Mims, and bodyguard Rob Brown came to him with their phones to show him the news. With L.A. playing the Cavs in Cleveland Wednesday, James touched on why he left Cleveland again with The Athletic's Joe Vardon (h/t Bleacher Report's Tyler Conway), and the notable takeaway was that when Cleveland traded Kyrie Irving, that was the "beginning of the end" for him in "The Land", part two. His 11 years with Cleveland were incredible, and nobody can really blame James for leaving earlier this year to go to the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas' hip injury caused him to be unavailable until January of this past season, and he was not effective when he did come back; Crowder primarily at the 4 worked out horribly for Cleveland on both ends, and Zizic is progressing, but still has a long way to go to be a consistent every-night player on the worst team now in the National Basketball Association. But, in the end, Dan Gilbert won out, with the Cavs owner clearly taking more of an active role in the roster-building process.
"You realize at that point in time, take nothing from Koby, because Koby (was just named GM), but at that point in time, you realize that Koby's not the only one running the team, as (former GM David Griffin) had done, and that's why Griff was let go pretty much", James said.
Nonetheless, losing potentially the two best players the Cavaliers have ever had (potentially we can say that by the time Irving retires) has put Cleveland suddenly in a need for a drastic rebuild.
Meanwhile, the Cavs are the worst team in the National Basketball Association with a 2-12 mark. They also said Altman asked James whether he would commit to the Cavs long-term if Irving were not traded, and James said no.