When the NBA offseason began, few expected the Boston Celtics would be adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter in free agency later in the summer.
... Except Danny Ainge, apparently.
During an introductory press conference Wednesday at the Auerbach Center, Ainge said Walker and Kanter were the Celtics' top priority entering free agency.
"As we started planning for Plan A, our Plan A was Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said.
C's fans may be puzzled by Ainge's comments, considering Boston entered the offseason as a frontrunner to land long-time target Anthony Davis. But when Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on June 15 and the Celtics learned Kyrie Irving would leave Boston days before free agency began on June 30, Ainge and Co. were forced to pivot.
That turned their attention first to Walker, who Ainge said has been on his radar for years.
"I've been watching Kemba also since he was at UConn," Ainge said. "I fell in love with him at the Maui Classic in his junior year where I think the whole world realized how good he was then. But I was sitting there in the front row watching very closely and it was very exciting and just had great respect for him throughout his career."
The C's convinced Walker to leave the Charlotte Hornets by offering him a four-year, $141 million contract in free agency. Adding Kanter was a bit trickier, though, as Ainge insinuated Boston didn't have the cap space to pay Kanter his full value.
"We needed a big guy and Enes was on the board, and we were worried someone was going to pay him a lot more money than we had available," Ainge said. "And he probably could have gotten more money in other places. But we're grateful he chose us."
Kanter indeed picked the C's anyway, inking a reported two-year contract worth $10 million to complete Boston's post-Davis, post-Kyrie "Plan A."
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