Celtics

Kyrie Irving says he plans on re-signing with Celtics

Kyrie Irving says he plans on re-signing with Celtics

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving unexpectedly announced he plans to re-sign with the team during a question-and-answer session in front of season-ticket holders on Thursday night at TD Garden.

After being asked about the possibility of having his No. 11 jersey retired one day, Irving dramatically stood up and, addressing the fans, said he plan on re-signing with Boston.

“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,” Irving said to applause. 

Smiling wide at the reaction of the crowd, he added, “I appreciate it."

Irving, who was noncommittal about his future at the start of the summer, has gone out of his way to express his fondness for Boston in recent weeks. That culminated with Thursday’s declaration, which came at the end of a Q&A he did alongside teammates Al Horford and Gordon Hayward.

Irving had begun telling teammates and front office personnel about his decision to re-sign with Boston in recent days but no one in the organization knew for sure if — or when — he’d make a public declaration.

Paul Pierce, sitting courtside for the event, clapped along with fans as Irving made the announcement.

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"I think that’s huge. I think [Irving] has an understanding after being here a year, it’s all about legacy. To have a legacy here in Boston, it could be like none other in the NBA.

"I think he has a clear understanding of that. He’s a smart player, he’s a smart guy. He understands that championship window. Also, it doesn’t last that long. He had his run in Cleveland and he sees the future here in Boston that can really be something special. I think he notices that."

Irving's announcement, after a series of low-key skills challenges, was surprising only because of its timing. Irving had joked this summer about hoping reporters would limit their inquiries about his future to one question per day.

Irving will be in line to ink a five-year, $189 million extension after he opts out of the final year of his current deal next summer. Irving said in June he had no interest in an extension this summer, particularly one that would pay him roughly $85 million less than what he can earn by signing a max deal with Boston.

Many have wondered if Irving could be lured by a team with max cap space and most speculation centered on the New York Knicks, given Irving’s New Jersey roots. But Irving had gone out of his way in recent weeks to express his appreciation for Boston.

Still, his announcement sent shockwaves around the NBA. Though Pierce said he wasn’t surprised.

"It’s not surprising to me because, when you look at his situation, this is like a great situation for him,” said Pierce. "It’s not that he’s on a team that’s getting older, he’s on a team that’s pretty much at the start of their prime right now, with him being at the forefront, and something that could go on for a long long time. Even as he gets older, he has younger guys that can really pick him up if he starts to decline when he gets into his 30s and getting older. I mean this is a perfect situation for him."

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Irving’s return bolsters Boston’s position as an NBA power for years to come with a core of Irving, Horford and Hayward, in addition to up-and-comers Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier.

It also checks off one of Boston’s most important tasks next summer. With Irving likely to be a mere formality to sign, the Celtics can put their attention on others — whether that’s Horford opting out of his final year and exploring a lower-money extension, or the possible restricted free agency of Rozier.

The 26-year-old Irving, a five-time All-Star, averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists over 32.2 minutes per game during his first season in Boston. He appeared in 60 games last year before a balky left knee ended his season in March.

Irving has expressed hope that, with both him and Hayward returning this season, the Celtics could take another step towards competing for a title.
 

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Have Danny Ainge's NBA Draft day trades worked out for Celtics?

Have Danny Ainge's NBA Draft day trades worked out for Celtics?

Another NBA draft, another bevy of first-round picks for the Boston Celtics. Been there, done that, I know. 

If the NBA draft were today, the Celtics would be on the clock three times with picks No. 17, No. 26 and No. 30.

Having so many first-round picks seems like a good thing, right?

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Not so much when your roster already has a large share of players relatively new to the NBA like the Celtics. 

More than half of the Celtics current roster (eight players) are still on their rookie deals, and that doesn’t include two-way players Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall. That’s why the likelihood of Boston trading at least one of their three first-round picks this year seems very likely. 

And while trading first-round picks is always on the Danny Ainge à la carte menu of draft-day options, the results have been mixed in recent years.

2019 NBA DRAFT

The Celtics traded the No. 20 pick (Matisse Thybulle) to Philadelphia in exchange for two picks: No. 24 (used to select Ty Jerome) and No. 33 (Carsen Edwards). 

Jerome was immediately shipped out to Phoenix as part of the trade package which also sent Aron Baynes to the Suns. So this trade was essentially Thybulle for Edwards.

It’s still early, but Thybulle has been the best player involved in this trade. 

He has elite, All-NBA defensive potential, the kind of player who would have formed a hellacious backcourt defensively if you paired him up with Marcus Smart. 

NBA.com stats show that Thybulle limited opponents to just 37.4 percent on shots at least 15 feet from the rim. 

To put that in perspective, Smart, who was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team last season, held opponents to 38.4 percent shooting from 15 or more feet away from the rim. 

Meanwhile, Jerome and Edwards played limited minutes and struggled for the most part when they got on the floor. 

2017 NBA DRAFT

The Boston Celtics finally got the number one overall pick in the draft … only to trade it away!

Boston traded the top overall pick (Markelle Fultz) to the Sixers in exchange for moving down two spots to select Jayson Tatum along with adding a future first-round pick that was used in 2019 to select Romeo Langford. 

While not much time has passed since this draft went down, it has clearly been one that the Celtics won by a decisive margin. 

And remember, the Celtics didn’t have to be bad in order to wind up with the top overall pick.

It was part of the team’s blockbuster deal in 2013 with Brooklyn that allowed the Celtics the right to swap first-round picks in 2017. 

The 22-year-old Tatum is already an All-Star, displaying the kind of game that will soon have him in the league MVP conversation based upon the rate at which his game has been improving. 

He is averaging a team-best 23.6 points per game this season, along with 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals — all career highs for the third-year forward. 

Not only has Fultz not played anywhere close to the level of Tatum, but Philly’s top pick in 2017 has already been moved on to another team after being acquired via trade by Orlando. 

Fultz has fared better with the Magic with career highs this season in points per game (12.1), assists (5.2) and shooting (47.3 percent). 

But his improved play still lags behind the overall impact made by Tatum. 

As for Langford, he saw limited time as a rookie primarily because of injuries. But as the season progressed, Langford’s defense earned him increased playing time and maybe just as important, more trust from head coach Brad Stevens. He has appeared in 26 games while averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. 

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2013 NBA DRAFT

When the Boston Celtics moved up three spots to the No. 13 spot via trade while sending the No. 16 pick to the Dallas Mavericks, there was some talk that the move was being made to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Instead, the Celtics picked Kelly Olynyk while Antetokounmpo, now the reigning league MVP, was Milwaukee’s pick at No. 15 — one spot before Boston’s slot prior to flipping picks with the Mavericks.

The Mavericks used the 16th overall pick from Boston to acquire Lucas Noguiera, who wound up being traded by Dallas to Atlanta (Dallas was focused on creating additional cap space by flipping the pick), before eventually landing in Toronto where he played four seasons. The 7-foot Brazilian center has returned to playing internationally, having not been on an NBA roster since 2018.

Boston was among the teams that whiffed on taking Antetokounmpo, obviously. 

But considering who the Celtics made the trade with to acquire Olynyk, this would qualify as a trade that worked out better for Boston than their trading partner. 

2011 NBA DRAFT

Coming off a second-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat, the Celtics looked very much like a veteran team in desperate need of an influx of young talent — particularly in the frontcourt.

Picking near the end of the first round, the Celtics swapped the No. 25 pick (MarShon Brooks from nearby Providence College) for Brooklyn’s No. 27 selection which was used on JaJuan Johnson. 

This trade didn’t work out for either team, although Brooks enjoyed a much more fruitful NBA career. 

Making matters worse, the Celtics were one of the many teams that whiffed on Jimmy Butler in this draft, as the five-time All-Star wound up being selected by Chicago with the 30th overall pick of the first round. 

Johnson played just 36 games in the NBA, all with Boston, before being traded to Houston (and waived before the start of the 2012-2013 season) as part of a three-team trade.

The 6-foot-10 forward has spent the bulk of his career playing internationally with his most recent stint coming with Bahçeşehir Koleji of the Turkish Super Basketball League. 

Brooks has played five seasons in the NBA for five different teams, including a 10-game stint with the Celtics. 

After averaging a career-high 12.6 points per game as a rookie with the Nets, Brooks struggled to latch on with any team beyond a season or so before ultimately taking his talents overseas. 

Like Johnson, his best years professionally have come while playing internationally. He spent this past season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Sports Uncovered: Inside Michael Jordan's two-word fax that altered NBA history

Sports Uncovered: Inside Michael Jordan's two-word fax that altered NBA history

"I'm back."

On March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan sent those words via fax to announce his return to the NBA after his stunning retirement in 1993.

But there's much more to the story of Jordan's comeback than a two-word fax.

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In the debut episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast series, NBC Sports Chicago will take fans behind the scenes to tell some never-before-heard stories about Jordan returning to the Bulls in 1995.

One example: Jordan's comeback actually didn't start in Chicago. The star forward secretly worked out with the Golden State Warriors over a span of two to three days to test whether he was ready to return after a year away from the game.

The short answer: Yes.

"We knew he was coming back then," former Warriors star Tim Hardaway said on the podcast. "He just took over our practice. He got five guys (who weren't) playing that much, and he said, 'Us seven will play you all’s seven in a scrimmage,' and it was like he never left."

Those workouts are only the beginning of the story. Through interviews with Jordan's agent, David Falk, former teammates Steve Kerr and Toni Kukoc and many more NBA stars, "Sports Uncovered" reveals the full narrative behind Jordan's NBA-altering return to Chicago.

The episode drops Thursday, May 28, and you can listen by subscribing to "Sports Uncovered" for free wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out the trailer below, narrated by host Mike Tirico: