Gilbert didn't expound much on why he believes Irving will leave Boston.
Cleveland traded Irving for Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, Ante Žižić, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick.
In an interview with Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week, Gilbert said the Cavs had no choice but to trade Irving two years ago because he was threatening to undergo knee surgery and skip the season.
Yet, the Celtics have had as many banners to hand as the Cavaliers since 2017 and a rocky 2018-19 regular season ended in disappointing fashion, as Boston was handily defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers and they obliged despite him having two seasons remaining on his contract.
"We could have ended up with nothing", he continued.
"It becomes a melting snowball", said Gilbert. "We had to trade him when we did".
The Cavs dealt Irving to the rival Celtics in 2017, believing that he meant to leave at the end of his contract that expires this summer and wanting to net something in return. What team would want Kyrie with only one year on his contract knowing he could leave after the season? It was possible he could be out for most of the year.
Irving also was battling a knee injury, and Gilbert said the All-Star guard hinted he might opt for corrective surgery, which would have sidelined him for months.
Faced with the prospect of seeing Irving eventually walk in free agency, Gilbert had high praise for general manager Koby Altman for making the Irving deal. Sexton made the All-Rookie second team in a loaded class, and Cleveland really did see to do as well as one could ask, given the circumstances. But Gilbert's way of describing it is ambitious, at the least.
As for James, Gilbert told Cleveland.com that the Cavs weren't as blindsided by his departure to the Lakers last offseason as his unexpected exit to the Miami Heat in 2010.
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