BOSTON — Kyrie Irving verbally committed to re-signing with the Boston Celtics less than a calendar year ago.
Fast forward to this summer, and the C’s effectively didn’t stand a chance of retaining the star point guard. In fact, it just might have been a mutual parting of ways.
Irving wasted little time on the open market, opting to join the Brooklyn Nets in free agency following a pair of turbulent seasons in Boston. The six-time All-Star’s decision to leave the C’s certainly didn’t come as a surprise to Danny Ainge, who several months ago developed an inkling of what likely was to come.
“I mean, I think I had a pretty good idea in March, April. Not for sure, though. Not certain,” Ainge said Wednesday. “I was obviously thinking of moving in a different direction at that point. Thinking of the different options.”
Luckily for the Celtics, Ainge’s foresight helped put the franchise in a good position to succeed despite losing one of the league’s premier playmakers. Boston’s president of basketball operations quickly found Irving’s replacement in Kemba Walker, who held his introductory press conference Wednesday alongside fellow newcomer Enes Kanter. Ainge knows how fortunate the C’s are to have landed the two veterans, but all of his eggs weren’t placed in their baskets.
“It’s a tough business,” Ainge said. “You’ve got to have a lot of different directions to go. You’ve got to be ready and we had others than this one we have today. We’re sitting here with two guys who chose to come to us that we’re very fortunate to have. But if that hadn’t happened, we’d have another plan.”
It’s anyone’s guess what Ainge’s Plan B might have been, but given how free agency panned out elsewhere around the league, it likely would have paled in comparison to the additions of Walker and Kanter. Boston now will move forward with a promising bunch looking to restore excitement to one of the NBA’s most historic franchises.
Thumbnail photo via Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports Images