BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are set to tip off their most anticipated season in several years, and to help spread the enthusiasm, team co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Felger & Massarotti a little more than 24 hours before the 2017-18 season officially gets underway.
But before moving on the new season, Felger & Mazz had to ask Grousbeck about the team’s decision to trade away its leader in Isaiah Thomas this summer. While Grousbeck expressed great excitement for the addition of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the roster, he did say that he loves everything about Isaiah Thomas.
Isaiah himself, however, may not hold such feelings to those in charge of Boston’s basketball team.
“I have not [spoken with Thomas]. I have texted him best wishes, and he probably read it,” Grousbeck said. “He’s a guy we miss. He’s a guy who was not easy to trade. He’s a winner as a person, not only on the court. And he’s somebody, Cleveland’s lucky to have him. I’m rooting for him to play well.”
Asked if he was bothered to have not received a reply, Grousbeck said, “No. This is the NBA. It’s OK. … I feel fine with everything that Isaiah does. I’m a fan. I’m good with it.”
Grousbeck said he could understand why someone in Thomas’ position might not be eager to talk to a decision-maker who helped ship him out of town.
“If I got traded I wouldn’t be particularly thrilled,” Grousbeck said. “That’s the way life is.”
When pressed for more about the team’s motivations to make the trade, Grousbeck said it was all about rebuilding a roster to actually compete for a title.
“Everything about Isaiah the last two years I’ve loved and everybody loved,” Grousbeck said. “We just made a decision over the summer to go — if you look broadly at what we did, we just hit reset. Because I and others didn’t think that team — we lost 4-1 to Cleveland and Cleveland lost 4-1 to Golden State — was looking like it was going to get there. They played their hearts out. So we hit reset.”
As for those expectations, Grousbeck was careful not to place any strict demands of where this team should be. He simply expressed optimism.
“We just don’t know at this point. I’m just going to personally let them play basketball and check in March and see how we’re doing. I’ll be at every game between now and March, but let’s see how this team jells,” he said. “This next run over this next period of time, I think we’re set up to get better every year. And I like that.”
With Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum pegged to serve key roles, Grousbeck didn’t express concern about having too much youth.
“I personally think we’re a better team this year than we were last year, and I think our future is brighter as well,” he said.
Still, he was careful not to put too-high expectations on the team that’s yet to play a real game together.
“Can’t say that [the Celtics are a true championship contender] now. I’d like to be able to say that within the next X number of years. I’d love to be able to say that. We’ve got a ways to go,” he said. “I’d like to probably be legitimate contenders against the Warriors in probably a couple of years. They’re pretty tough!”
Grousbeck also weighed in on national anthem protests, the team’s hope for keeping Marcus Smart long term, the positive vibes of Kyrie Irving, the difference between the last franchise reboot in 2007 and this one, the Celtics’ place among Boston sports teams, and more. Listen in the audio below!