Celtics

Irving: It was 'awesome' playing with LeBron James

Irving: It was 'awesome' playing with LeBron James

BOSTON -- For most of Kyrie Irving’s joint press conference with Gordon Hayward, the name LeBron James seemed as though it would not be uttered. 
 
Irving, who asked for a trade in part to get from under James’s shadow, was well aware of the rumors about he and LeBron not being on the best of terms even before his trade demand. 

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Those rumors won’t die anytime soon, but on Friday Irving did speak to their relationship and what it has meant to him both as a person and a player. 
 
While they have been teammates for the past three years, Irving indicated the two had a prior friendship. That certainly helped with the transition. 

“I would be sitting up here telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you how much I learned from that guy,” Irving said. “The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms, and you watch and you watch and you ask a lot of the great players, what does it take to be great?
 
Irving added: “I’ve had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats. It was awesome. At times, it was all over just like it is in any other team. And when you look back, you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you had and you shared. You’re able to be at peace with that journey and start anew.”
 
Based on Irving’s comments, it seems that more than anything else, an opportunity to continue his growth as a player, was the driving force behind his decision to ask for a trade despite being on a team that had made three straight trips to the NBA Finals and was once again an early favorite to make it four in a row. 
 
“This was a very, very challenging decision at first,” Irving said. “But after a while, you understand and you have that confidence in yourself and understand the magnitude of what you can accomplish and potentially do. Now that I’m sitting here, it just echoes in me of being appreciative of not only the Cleveland fans, all of Ohio, as well as ‘Bron and that special team we had in Cleveland. Three finals in a row. All the shared memories . . . the brotherhood exists even without all this and it will continue. That’s exactly where it is.”
 
 

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.

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Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.

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