• Cameron Tabatabaie

The Mutual Divorce Between the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving

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Tumultuous as ever, the Kyrie Irving saga in Boston may be coming to a close. Two new reports not indicate that not only does Uncle Drew have eyes for a new franchise, but that the Celtics too may be ready to end this relationship.

Kevin Durant’s tragic achilles tear in Game 5 of the NBA Finals could change how his good friend Kyrie Irving approaches his own free agency. Still, Irving increasingly seems destined to land outside of Boston.

The Celtics aren’t taking the news lying down. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge appears undeterred by Irving, Rich Paul, or anyone else in his pursuit of Anthony Davis.

There’s a lot of working parts here. Let’s discuss.


Irving’s pursuit of celebrity is a naked one. He revels in the spotlight, then retroactively bemoans it, all to the benefit of his own meticulously curated brand. Kyrie wants the biggest stage.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that New York and Los Angeles have been tied to Irving for months. There’s now good reason to believe that the former No. 1 overall pick will land with NBA hipsters’ favorite team, the Brooklyn Nets.

Just ahead of this crucial summer, Irving has signed with Roc Nation, an entertainment group and talent agency founded by Jay-Z. The same Jay-Z of Brooklyn fame and the former part-owner of the Nets.

The Boston Herald, meanwhile, has reported that Irving to Brooklyn is just about a done deal. The Herald did caution that Irving’s flippant and coy demeanor demand a grain of salt for such a stark prediction.

The basketball fit for the Nets would be a smart one. There’s plenty of talent in Brooklyn, and the team is eager for a return to form after many years of ineptitude. That Irving would be going from one club with a young core to an even more inexperienced one is it’s own issue to unpack.

Kyrie in the rearview

As for the Celtics, well, the team seems ready to move on. Ainge recently explained that he’s unafraid of the risk that comes with making a high-profile trade, citing Boston’s initial gamble on Irving as precedent for a zero-regret mentality. In doing so, Ainge spoke as if he was already looking ahead.

More recently, the Boston Globe reported that the Celtics’ confidence in re-signing Irving had “eroded.” Boston has instead honed in on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.

Acquiring AD, though, isn’t meant to appease or lure Irving. No, the Celtics pursuit of Davis now appears to be despite the Kyrie Irving situation.

It was just two short years ago that a fresh-faced Kyrie Irving sat beside Gordon Hayward, ushering in a long-promised era of Celtics glory. That dream appears to also have eroded.

Danny Ainge is as proactive an executive as any in the NBA. He can’t afford to let the waffling, cryptic Irving determine Boston’s future. If Kyrie does indeed have eyes for Brooklyn, Ainge and the Celtics can not and will not waste time feeling scorned or nostalgic. There’s a new roster to be built.

Sourced reporting and leaked information leading up to free agency is all about leverage and puppeteering. The fact of the matter is that Kyrie Irving could very well re-up with the Celtics without an ounce of drama. And this may coincide with an Anthony Davis trade.

Likewise, however, Irving might truly be set on pursuing a contract in the biggest NBA markets.The same may be true of Davis, leaving Ainge and Co. with a new future to write. To borrow a phrase from Kyrie’s own most recent Instagram post, “What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.”

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