Last October, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving announced that he intended to re-sign with the Celtics. But he pulled back from that proclamation during the season and had a poor performance in the playoff loss to the Bucks. And in recent weeks, multiple reports have suggested that Irving will likely be going elsewhere this summer.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who said he had a good exit interview with Irving after the season, said Wednesday that there was not much clarity on his end about Irving’s future.
“I don’t know,” said Ainge, in his first media appearance since suffering a heart attack April 30. “There’s not much I can say about that, honestly, but there’s ongoing conversations. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens there.”
Ainge said Irving’s representatives have not indicated to him that Irving intends to sign with another team. He would like to find out with some advance notice, of course, because that will affect how the Celtics approach the draft and their pursuit of Anthony Davis.
“But he can do what he wants,” Ainge said. “It’s his choice to do what he wants.
“Sure, I’d like to have answers to all your questions right now. That would be nice. Then I can relax even more. But it’s a busy time of year and there’s a lot of unanswered questions with free agency and draft and all of the players on our roster, all of that.”
Ainge was asked if there was something he could do to make Irving want to come back to Boston.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I don’t know that yet.”
Irving scuffled in the five-game Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Bucks, shooting just 35.2 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from the 3-point line while committing 3.6 turnovers per game and showing scattered effort on defense.
“The first thing I would say about 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 the team did not succeed this year.
“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 didn’t make the sacrifices that needed to be done for the benefit of the team.
“So I think that they’re all going to learn from it, including Kyrie. He’s still a young player, and I think Kyrie is going to come back even better next year.”
If Irving does depart, his two-year tenure in Boston will not end up being very memorable. He missed last year’s playoffs with a knee injury and then fizzled in this postseason, after a regular season that was filled with frustration.
“There’s always risk in making deals,” Ainge said. “We’re not afraid of risk. We made a risk by trading for Kyrie and, no matter what happens with Kyrie, I’ll never regret that. You just move on to the next deal.”