By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Kyrie Irving’s demand for a trade first surfaced, the Boston Celtics were not on a select list of teams the Cavaliers guard would like to play for.
That, of course, didn’t stop the Celtics from being mentioned in trade rumors for Irving every 20 minutes. Given Danny Ainge’s throng of assets, the Celtics president of basketball ops. could present the Cavs with the best offer for the four-time All-Star.
Now, the man who used to make the trades for the Cavs is throwing a little more fuel on a potential Kyrie-To-Boston fire.
Cleveland’s former general manager, David Griffin, casually tossed the Celtics into Irving’s preferred landing spots during an appearances on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Monday — his first comments since his unceremonious ousting from the Cavs on June 19. Griffin said he believes Irving will be traded, and that it’s the best move for both sides to move on this point. He praised Irving for having the “courage” to demand a trade away from the Cavaliers and LeBron James, adding that he would like to go somewhere with a “really good coaching situation.”
As Celtics fans know, having Brad Stevens on the bench puts Boston in that category.
“That’s not youth and ignorance. That’s a little bit more courage than people give him credit for. This is a guy whose list included really good coaching situations — Brad Stevens and [Gregg] Popovich,” said Griffin.
Brad Stevens and Pop in the same sentence! Usually that’s something only the greenest of green teamers would be guilty of. But the C’s head coach wasn’t the only time Griffin mentioned the Celtics.
“Again, the teams on his list — Gordon Hayward in Boston and Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio — he would be accompanied by other great players, so it’s not like he’s asking to lead a ragtag bunch,” continued Griffin. “He just wanted to put himself in a position, I think, where he could find out exactly what he has as a 25-year-old entering his prime.”
When Irving’s demand was first reported in early July, the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves made up his wish list of landing spots. That didn’t stop the trade rumors, with many reporters guessing the Celtics could offer up a package of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, potentially a young player off the roster and a future first-round pick that Ainge has acquired over the years.
While Irving himself hasn’t mentioned the Celtics as a possible landing spot, it’s promising when his former boss adds the team to the mix. Not because the Celtics have a real chance at landing Irving, but more so because the Celtics appear to have become a prime destination for players looking for a new team. Both Al Horford and Gordon Hayward felt that way over the last two summers, and it appears more player are now following suit.
It’s possible the top two teams in the Eastern Conference could swing a trade, though it’s highly unlikely. But with Griffin adding the Celtics to the mix, the rumors won’t die any time soon.