Despite assuring fans last October that he had plans of re-signing with the Boston Celtics, it became more and more apparent as the 2018-19 season went on that Kyrie Irving was going to be taking his talents elsewhere in free agency. As a new report suggests, it didn’t take long for Irving to become unhappy with the Celtics last season, starting with the team’s president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge.
According to NBC Sports Boston, ESPN writer Jackie MacMullan discussed Irving’s relationship with the Celtics during her recent appearance on The Michael Holley Podcast, as she recalled the slow process in which Irving seemed to become disillusioned with various people in the organization. As quoted by the outlet, MacMullan mentioned that Irving’s dissatisfaction with Ainge appeared to manifest in the first few months of the 2018-19 season.
“He soured on Danny. I don’t know why. But I was hearing by December he’s frustrated with Danny. I don’t know what it is, I still don’t know the answer. Kyrie has never told me. It started there, and then he starts second-guessing the coach — again, passive-aggressive.”
Regarding Irving’s relationship with Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens, MacMullan said she believes the star point guard didn’t necessarily dislike him. However, she explained that it came to a point where Irving eventually “lost faith” in the entire Celtics organization, starting with Ainge and Stevens.
As recalled earlier this month in a separate report from Yahoo Sports, it was in February when Irving “walked back” on his previous verbal commitment to re-sign with the Celtics, as he was quoted as saying that he would make the free agency decision that would benefit his career the most, also adding that he “[doesn’t] owe anybody s**t,” as far as the team’s fans are concerned.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) July 17, 2019
MacMullan’s comments about Irving came shortly after Ainge told reporters that he had a “pretty good idea in March or April” that the 27-year-old All-Star guard would be leaving Boston in free agency. The NBA-star-turned-executive stressed that he wasn’t completely sure that Irving was on his way out of the Celtics at that point, but nonetheless wanted to plan ahead and think of the “different options” the team would have in the offseason.
With Irving taking his career averages of 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game to the Nets, the Celtics will be entering the 2019-20 season with a new point guard in Kemba Walker, who was acquired as a free agent earlier this month from the Charlotte Hornets. NBC Sports Boston described the 29-year-old Walker as a “high-character” player with strong leadership skills, and someone who could help the Celtics remain in the top four of the Eastern Conference in the coming season.