The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers are going to meet in the regular-season opener. How juicy is that?

Two elite All-Star guards who just met in the NBA conference finals got traded for each other? And how rare is that?

Kyrie Irving wanted out from LeBron James’ shadow and the fallout from the end of their basketball marriage figures to extend through the 2018 conference finals and beyond. How captivating is that?

Faced with Irving’s trade request and narrow leverage, the new Cavs general manager, Koby Altman, managed to extract maximum talent from Danny Ainge to acquire Isaiah Thomas, rugged forward Jae Crowder, young center Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round choice, which could be a top-five pick. What a terrific job Altman did and through a couple of prisms won the deal, right?

Either team is still going to lose to the Warriors in the NBA Finals. How inevitable is that?

Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Chris Paul, Gordon Hayward, the number of important 2017 offseason moves along with burgeoning interest in the Summer League is proof the NBA has become a year-long powerhouse. Yet just when it was getting a little sleepy, this blockbuster hit with a giant thunderclap on a late August night.

Immediately the analysis hit on the Cavs’ present and future with LeBron.

Immediately the analysis hit on the Celtics’ present and whether they had overtaken the Cavs in the East.

From my view, not enough was focused on the Celtics’ future.

This is where this deal makes so much sense for Boston.

“Kyrie is a player who fits the timeline for us,” Ainge said.

If you doubted the NBA is a cold, sometimes cruel business, those 10 words captured it all.

Thomas had a magnificent 2016-17, averaging nearly 30 points. Through the regular season he was the most productive fourth-quarter finisher. He was a top-five MVP guy. When his sister died in a car accident, Thomas captured everyone’s heart with his playoff performances.

“(Thomas) had an amazing season, entertained us all, the whole city of Boston,” Ainge said. “Everybody fell in love with him. He’s such an underdog because of his size and his heart, and his spirit. It was very challenging to make this decision.

“As you can imagine, it was a difficult conversation with (Thomas).”

Yet at the same time, no matter how challenging the decision, it needed to be made. Irving is a superstar. He’s also 25 and 5 inches taller than Thomas.

The undisputed winner at this point is Irving. He wanted out. He got out. He wanted to go to a contender with a solid hierarchy. He got that. He wanted to be the man. He gets to be the No. 1 guy without having to carry the burden of a bad supporting cast.

“Kyrie was very excited about coming,” Ainge said.

Excited enough to reportedly waive a 15 percent trade kicker on his $18.9 million salary.

If you want to focus on the Cavs, it’s understandable from a national perspective. LeBron is the best player in the world.

With Thomas stepping into Kyrie’s role, with the addition of a tough asset like Crowder, Altman made sure LeBron still should have enough in his “walk” year to sustain. That’s provided Thomas’ hip is OK. The Cavs can decide if they want to re-sign Thomas, a free agent next summer. If LeBron elects to stay, they should still be fine.

If LeBron wants out, if the Cavs elect to let Thomas go, they have the Nets’ No. 1 pick to begin a rebuilding process. Maybe it’s Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter Jr. Or DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba or Luka Doncic. However it works out, Altman did a tremendous job covering the present and future.

Altman reportedly wanted Jayson Tatum, who the Celtics drafted after trading the No. 1 overall pick. Ainge said no. Still, getting that Nets pick was huge.

“You do pay a heavy price for a player of Kyrie’s caliber,” Ainge said. “That pick is still very valuable but obviously we value Kyrie more. It’s that simple.”

The Celtics still have the Lakers’ conditional 2018 No. 1 pick. Some will argue that Ainge held onto his massive draft stockpile for so long that he needed to get the ultra-player in return. He wasn’t getting LeBron, Westbrook, Curry, Harden, Leonard. He didn’t get Kevin Durant last summer. Irving is championship proven. He wasn’t better than Thomas this past year but is better than Thomas.

“With Kyrie, we have a player who has proven to be a sure thing,” Ainge said. “It’s extremely rare to be able to trade for a 25-year-old who has done what he’s done. He’s one of the best scorers in the NBA. He’s been an NBA champion, an Olympic gold medalist and a four-time All-Star. For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him.”

Irving isn’t a very good defender on a lot of nights, but he’s OK when he needs to be. Because of his size, Thomas is a defensive liability. Ainge said the Celtics did their homework and talked to a lot of people. They are convinced any of the baggage that led to Irving asking for a trade won’t travel with him to Boston.

Here’s the bottom line: Irving is committed contractually for the next two years. He has the option on a third year. The Celtics figure to get a long-term deal along the way. Asked if Thomas’ hip played any role, Ainge said, “Some. Probably a little bit of a delay as he starts the season but I think he should be fine and healthy as the season goes on.”

It goes beyond the hip. Thomas is a free agent in 2018. He made it clear he wanted max money. For the Celtics, that would have been at least $30 million a season. He will be 30 the season he signs. A 5-9 guy, whose fearless game depends on speed and getting to the cup, if I were Ainge I would have been really nervous about signing him to a five-year, $180 million deal. Do you see Thomas being a Top 5 MVP guy at 32, 33, 34, 35? I don’t.

Moreover, the roster is young. Tatum is 19. Jaylen Brown is 20. Marcus Smart is 23. Terry Rozier is 23. Hayward and Marcus Morris are 27. Al Horford is the old guy at 31 and his game isn’t built on speed. They still aren’t a good rebounding team and – until the Warriors disband – they will win no NBA championship.

Incredible as it sounds, the Celtics have only four remaining players from the conference finals a few months ago. With Irving and Hayward, they are improved. At this point I’d still have the Cavs over the Celtics in six or seven games in the conference finals. Yet the Celtics are very good and should continue to get better in succeeding years. As harsh as it sounds to come at Thomas’ expense, Kyrie fits the Celtics’ timeline.