At an appearance at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield on Friday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens is asked by a young fan why "he" traded Isaiah Thomas.
"That's an excellent question," Stevens said. "Here's what I'll tell you is that what he did in Boston the last 2 1/2 years has been incredible. I said earlier what he's meant to me, what I think of him. How great he's been in the locker room, what kind of teammate he's been. Those are all really, really, really hard decisions. That's the hard part about being a professional basketball coach. I've stared at the wall many times and thought, man, having guys in college for four years and knowing when they're coming in going is a pretty good way of doing things. That's a tough one."
It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season.
There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance.
Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston).
A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.
Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills.