Friday, July 26, 2019

Jackie MacMullan: Kyrie Irving 'soured' on Danny Ainge, 'lost faith' in Brad Stevens

While the 2018-19 Celtics will go down as one of the great mysteries in Boston sports history, the only thing that remains consistent from last season was that Kyrie Irving was not happy for most of it.

ESPN's Jackie MacMullan appeared this week on the latest episode of The Michael Holley Podcast, and revealed some more interesting takes about Irving's relationship with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens.
"He soured on Danny," MacMullan said. "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. I don't think he disliked Brad Stevens at all, I just think he lost faith in him. And I think he lost faith in everybody there."
Despite Irving having the best statistical season of his career during the 2018-19 campaign, the Celtics, who were favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, underachieved and finished as the fourth seed before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.

If what MacMullan's saying holds up to be true (so far the timeline checks out), Irving, who in October told Celtics season ticket holders that he planned to re-sign in Boston, only to become unhappy a couple of months later, which ultimately led to him taking his talents to Brooklyn to team up with Kevin Durant.

Last week Ainge admitted that before the start of the NBA playoffs he felt Irving was leaning towards leaving.
"I think I had a pretty good idea in March or April," Ainge said after the introductory press conference for Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter. "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."
Though the Celtics have moved on rather quickly by signing another All-Star point guard in Walker to replace Irving, the 'what-if's' will linger around last year's roster. Despite the many changes already made for the upcoming season, Boston should remain a top-four team in the East, even if on paper they seem less talented than last summer.

Joel Pavón

Photo used is courtesy of Clutch Points

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