NBA Rumors: Celtics GM Danny Ainge Had ‘Pretty Good Idea’ Kyrie Irving Would Leave Boston In March Or April

A year ago, no one would have thought that Kyrie Irving would be leaving the Boston Celtics. Before the 2018-19 NBA season started, Irving gave an assurance that he would be re-signing with the Celtics in the 2019 NBA free agency. However, Irving had a change of heart in the middle of the season and already wanted to keep all his options open when he hit the open market.

When the 2019 NBA free agency officially began, Kyrie Irving broke the hearts of Celtics’ fans when he decided to leave Boston to team up with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets. However, Irving’s departure doesn’t seem to be surprising at all for Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations and general manager. During the introductory press conference for free-agent signings Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter, Ainge revealed that he already had a “pretty good idea” that they would be losing Irving in free agency as early as March or April.

“I think I had a pretty good idea in March or April,” Ainge said, as quoted by Yahoo Sports. “Not for sure, though. Not certain. But I was obviously thinking about moving in a different direction at that point. Thinking of the different options. It’s a tough business. You got to have lots of different directions to go. You have to be ready. We had others — if this one that we had today, we’re sitting here with two guys that chose to come to us that we’re very fortunate to have — but if it hadn’t happened, we would’ve had another plan.”

Kyrie Irving isn’t the only core player that the Celtics lost in the 2019 NBA free agency. After failing to reach an agreement in their initial contract negotiation, Al Horford ended up signing a four-year, $109 million contract with the Celtics’ Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers. However, instead of undergoing another rebuild after losing both Irving and Horford, the Celtics decided to surround Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with quality veterans that could help them remain a competitive team in the 2019-20 NBA season.

In the 2019 NBA free agency, the Celtics immediately found Kyrie Irving’s replacement after successfully acquiring Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets via a sign-and-trade deal. Walker may not be as good as Irving, but he could end up being a better fit playing alongside Celtics cornerstones Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Unlike Irving, Walker only missed a few games in the last four years.

Last season, Walker played all 82 games where he averaged 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals on 43.4 percent shooting from the field, and 35.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

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