Celtics

A full timeline of Kyrie Irving's comments about Celtics, future in Boston

A full timeline of Kyrie Irving's comments about Celtics, future in Boston

Why are Kyrie Irving's latest comments causing such a stir?

As always, context is key.

Irving opened the door for speculation he may leave the Boston Celtics in free agency, telling reporters at Madison Square Garden on Friday to "ask me July 1" about whether he'll re-sign.

Irving's remarks stood in contrast to the apparent promise he made to Celtics fans in October that he planned to stay in Boston for the long haul.

So, what should we make of his apparent flip-flop? You be the judge.

Below is a timeline of the notable comments Irving has made since joining the Celtics via trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August 2017.

September 1, 2017: Irving explains his reasoning for demanding a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James at his introductory press conference.

"It was my time to do what was best for me in terms of my intentions, and that’s going after something bigger than myself and honestly being in an environment that’s conducive to my potential. I think that statement is self-explanatory, because it’s pretty direct in terms of what my intent is: To be happy and to be with a group of individuals that I can grow with.

“And that’s not a knock on anything that’s transpired in my six years [on the Cavaliers], because it was an unbelievable experience. … So, me leaving wasn’t about basketball. It was more or less about creating that foundation of me in Cleveland, and then now taking this next step as a 25-year-old evolving man and being the best basketball player I can be.”

June 12, 2018: Entering the final season of his contract, Irving is asked whether he'll sign an extension with the Celtics before the 2018-19 season.

"Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense. I’m pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now."

October 4, 2018: Irving announces his intention to re-sign with the Celtics during a question-and-answer session with season ticket holders at TD Garden.

"I shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization and everyone else in Boston: If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."

October 5, 2018: Irving explains his surprise announcement to the media the following day.

"I have every intention of signing with Boston next year. I do have a dream of putting my No. 11 in the rafters one day if I'm so blessed to do that. I've worked my tail off, obviously a lot of great players have come before me, but to throw my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I'm glad I can do. And I'm planning on doing so."

" ... Honestly, thinking about starting over was just a shitty thought. Honestly. It just was like, man, I do not want to move again. I do not want to uproot my family and just be dealing with everything new again. No disrespect to any other organizations, but here was a perfect fit."

October 5, 2018: Following a game against the Knicks in New York, Irving confirms he considered requesting a trade to his hometown team before joining Boston.

"Every team was under consideration. But obviously New York held a special place for me, being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent, and ultimately taking a meeting, playing for Fiz [coach David Fizdale], and the great young core they have, thinking about playing here. Playing with KP [Kristaps Porzingis], that was a big thing, before I made my decision to plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration."

November 12, 2018: After a 1-4 road trip, Irving suggests the Celtics should add another veteran player.

"Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do."

January 12, 2019: Irving appears to demand more from the Celtics' young players after a road loss to the Orlando Magic.

"Experience. It’s the best thing I can say is experience. We’re lacking it and, because of that, we have a lot of learning to do. So we have a lot of ground to make up in that aspect. It gets tough. When it gets hard you’ve got to think. You’ve got to do the right things. You can’t gamble and think that it’s going to be the winning play. You’ve got to be able to play the full 48 minutes, no matter what’s going on, and hold your head high when you make mistakes. When your job is called upon, you’ve got to do it to the best of your ability. You’ve got to come in and make an impact for the minutes that you’re playing out there. 

"You’ve got to appreciate being out there and just competing. It doesn’t matter who you’re going against. It matters the type of preparation you have, what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced of just every single day. It’s not easy to be great."

January 16, 2019: Irving admits he called LeBron James to apologize for past disagreements and ask for leadership advice.

"I had to call Bron and tell him, I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world.

" ... So, I think what that brought me back to was like, all right, how do I get the best out of this group to the success they had last year and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.”

February 1, 2019: Irving appears to renege on his October promise, instead insisting he'll make the decision that's best for him.

"At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career. I spent the last eight years trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do -- managers, other personnel -- and I don't owe anybody shit.

"I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of pieces. That’s what excited me at the beginning of the season."

"... It’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who said what’s best for him, like, it doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary, and of course it’s going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that. I’m a professional, I’m not going to disrespect anybody but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family."

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WATCH: Jayson Tatum ribs Bam Adebayo after Heat star crashes interview

WATCH: Jayson Tatum ribs Bam Adebayo after Heat star crashes interview

Only in the NBA bubble could two budding stars battle on the court one moment then ham it up in the media room the next.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum was speaking to reporters via video conference Tuesday night after Boston's 112-106 loss to Miami when Heat big man Bam Adebayo strode into the room for his own interview session.

Adebayo wasn't in a waiting mood, though, so he tried to distract Tatum with a few incredulous looks from the corner.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nets, which begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Here's the entertaining scene, as captured by ESPN's Rachel Nichols in Orlando:

Props to Tatum for maintaining his focus as Adebayo tried to run interference. The two young stars then shared a playful exchange in which Tatum appeared to chide Adebayo for benefiting from some whistles. (The Heat big man scored 11 of his 21 points on free throws thanks to 18 free throw attempts, a game high.)

"You shot free throws like you won MVP or something," Tatum appeared to tell Adebayo.

Their banter was all in good nature: Tatum and Adebayo were teammates in the 2016 McDonald's All-American Game and entered the 2017 NBA Draft together, so they go way back. But Tatum still may have had a bitter taste in his mouth after picking up five fouls and getting hit with a technical in Tuesday's loss.

Both players are also in the running for the NBA's Most Improved Player Award amid career seasons; Adebayo is averaging a double-double (16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds) with 1.3 blocks per game for Miami, while Tatum is racking up 23.4 points and seven rebounds per game as he blossoms into an NBA star.

Celtics Talk Podcast: How much does a healthy Kemba Walker raise the Celtics’ ceiling? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

NBA Restart: Celtics still waiting on any bench player to step up

NBA Restart: Celtics still waiting on any bench player to step up

We could sit here and scream about how poor Boston’s defense has been inside the bubble. The Celtics own a defensive rating of 117.9 after their first three seeding games, and only one team has a worse mark (the helter-skelter Sixers).

We could lament Boston’s lethargy after the team whiffed Tuesday with a chance to essentially lock up the No. 3 seed while playing a Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat team that was on the second night of a back-to-back.

Boston hasn’t played with any sort of consistent energy in its three games, falling behind early against Milwaukee, coughing up a big lead against Portland, and trying to play catchup all night against Miami.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nets, which begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

But here’s one thought we couldn’t shake while watching Tuesday’s game: What a luxury it is for Miami to have a rookie like Tyler Herro on their bench. Herro chipped in 11 points over 22 minutes during the Heat’s 112-106 triumph.

With Marcus Smart in foul trouble — so much so that he fouled out late in the third quarter — Boston lacked a bench boost. Take away Enes Kanter’s 10 points and the Celtics’ reserve trio of Grant Williams, Brad Wanamaker, and Smart combined for 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting.

At one point during the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens dispatched Romeo Langford for his first seeding-game minutes but Langford turned in a scoreless 3 minutes, 44 seconds, in which he mostly blended into the scenery.

Herro, of course, went one spot ahead of Langford in the 2019 draft. There had been a buzz before draft night that the Celtics were fond of Herro and that he had impressed the team with his shooting in one of his workouts. There might have even been a few groans inside the Auerbach Center when Miami snagged the Kentucky product at No. 13.

The Celtics ultimately took Langford, who has no shortage of potential and might eventually be a better pro. But his rookie season got off to a slow start as he healed from hand surgery and then he dealt with a bunch of minor maladies that even limited how much floor time he got with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League.

Herro has now appeared in 50 games for Miami while shooting a robust 39 percent beyond the 3-point arc on 5.4 attempts per game. He wasn’t even Miami’s best rookie this season — that distinction goes to Kendrick Nunn — but Herro won Erik Spoelstra’s confidence and is now a key rotation piece while logging 26.9 minutes per game.

On Tuesday, Miami’s four-man bench combined for 43 points on 31 shots while each player logged at least 21 minutes of floor time. For Boston, Semi Ojeleye missed five of his six shots, including multiple open 3s. Smart finished 0-for-5 shooting.

Make no mistake, Boston will lean heavy on its core players when the playoffs arrive. When Kemba Walker is off his minute restriction, and combined with a hefty dose of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward, that might leave only a small handful of minutes for reserves not named Smart.

Still, games like Tuesday night show how important it is to have players that can take the baton, even if it’s only on rare nights. None of Boston’s younger players have shown enough this year to earn Stevens’ unwavering trust.

Again, guys like Grant Williams and Langford could have bright futures. Maybe Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters, too. That’s especially important for Boston because of how much money they have tied up long term in their core players.

But the fact of that matter is that, right now, none of Boston’s rookies have seized their opportunity, nor has 2018 first-round pick Robert Williams, who was only inserted late in Tuesday’s game to defend an inbounds attempt with his length and bounce.

Those players could get another chance to show what they’ve got on Wednesday when Boston plays a back-to-back against the Nets. With Walker set to rest his knee and Stevens unlikely to go too heavy on starter minutes in the team’s first (and only) bubble double, younger players will need to take advantage of whatever minutes come their way.

Herro won’t be the difference between a first-round upset and a first-round exit for Miami. But the Heat are well-positioned moving into the future because of the progress their youngest players made this season. It’s critical teams develop talent if they are going to commit most of their money to their top stars.

The Celtics are left waiting for their youngest players to show they are ready.

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