After the Boston Celtics welcomed in new star point guard Kemba Walker and center Enes Kanter Wednesday, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge offered additional comments on the departure of Kyrie Irving, per Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston.
“I think I had a pretty good idea in March or April,” said Ainge. “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.”
As Irving and the Celtics put more distance and time between each other, more information continues to reach the public sphere. Between Ainge’s comments and recent reports elsewhere, it appears as though Irving’s intentions to leave Boston (and Kevin Durant’s to leave Oakland, for that matter) were more open secret than Eyes Only.
In podcast released Wednesday for The Athletic, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie told Shams Charania that Irving made first contact perhaps as early as December 2018.
My debut on The Athletic Podcasts, with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Inside his relationship with Kyrie Irving, when their initial dialogue began, how Brooklyn appealed to free agents, 'silver lining' of 2019-20 without Kevin Durant, more. https://t.co/xCvi9uh55z pic.twitter.com/piVeTI8qbd— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 17, 2019
Hindsight, of course, is 20-20. Ainge’s comments today presented the calculated mindset that Celtics fans have come to know intimately since the 2007-2008 championship season. According to Ainge, Irving’s departure was always on the radar in Boston’s front office.
“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.”
On Thursday, Ainge took to Toucher & Rich on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub and revealed more information.
Danny Ainge on @toucherandrich:— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) July 18, 2019
“[Kyrie] did express to me on a couple of occasions between March and the end of [season] that he really wanted to go home. I got the impression at that point he wanted to go play in Brooklyn more than he wanted to paly in New York, or Boston."
The distress created by an underachieving season, Irving’s about-face, Al Horford’s move to Philadelphia are all unwanted. But the context of these comments are important: even as the public clamors to debrief about what happened last season, Ainge appears to always have at least one eye trained on the future.
Read more from Goss’s report on NBCSports.com.