BOSTON -- Earlier this year, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked in glowing terms about the team's pending basketball “marriage” to impending free agent Kyrie Irving.
Well, that wedding Ainge referenced isn’t as much of a lock as it once was.
I asked Ainge at the Auerbach Center on Wednesday if "wedding" is still on.
“I don’t know. There’s not much I can say about that, honestly,” Ainge said. “There’s ongoing conversations. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
I followed up by asking Ainge if Irving or his camp gave the Celtics an indication he did not want to come back to Boston.
“I have not received that indication, no,” Ainge said.
Irving has been the subject of trade rumors for months, most centering around him taking his talents to the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers.
Not surprisingly, Ainge would love to hear from Irving or his camp prior to the June 20 NBA draft about the perennial All-Star's intentions in free agency.
“Yeah, but I’m not … he can do what he wants. It’s his choice to do what he wants,” Ainge said of Irving. “But sure I’d like to have answers to all your questions now, that would be nice. I could relax even more. It’s a busy time of year. There’s a lot of unanswered questions with free agency and draft and all the players on our roster.”
Ainge was asked if Irving gave the Celtics an indication they could do something roster-wise that would entice him to want to come back.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Ainge said. “I don’t know that yet.”
There are plenty of rumors about Irving wanting to play with another proven All-Star such as New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.
Davis has asked for a trade and reportedly is sticking to that stance even after meeting with new Pelicans executive president of basketball operations David Griffin.
Like Irving, Durant will be a free agent this summer, with both often linked as a potential package deal to the Knicks.
While the season certainly didn’t end the way Ainge or the Celtics would have wanted, Ainge’s desire to keep Irving in a Celtics uniform going forward remains as strong as ever.
“The whole Kyrie thing, it’s unfortunate that one person gets credit or blame for a team’s failures,” Ainge said. “We had a lot of reasons why the team didn’t succeed this year. And Kyrie deserves his share of the blame but not any more than anybody else. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t handle things the right way and make the sacrifices that needed to be done for the benefit of the team.
"I think they’re all going to learn from it, including Kyrie. He’s still a young player. I think Kyrie’s going to come back even better next year.”
But even if Irving chooses to play elsewhere, Ainge won’t second-guess his decision to trade for him.
“There’s always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risks,” Ainge said. “We made a risk by trading for Kyrie (from Cleveland). And no matter what happens with Kyrie, I'll never regret that. Just move on to the next deal.”
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