BOSTON (CBS) — The tumultuous marriage between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics is officially over. On Sunday, it was reported that Irving would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets.
Sure enough, just after the 6 p.m. start to free agency discussions, Shams Charania reported that Irving and the Nets agreed to a four-year deal worth $142 million, with the fourth year being a player option.
So much for being the last Celtic to ever wear No. 11.
Irving will be joining forces with fellow superstar and good friend Kevin Durant, who managed to garner significant free-agent interest despite suffering a torn Achilles during the NBA Finals.
Irving appeared to be Boston’s next franchise player after they acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster trade just ahead of the 2017-18 season. He averaged 24.4 points for Boston his first season in Green, but a lingering knee issue ended his season in March. The Celtics, also without Gordon Hayward, then went on a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
A healthy Irving returned for the 2018-19 season, and everything appeared to be going great for the Celtics and the point guard. Ahead of the season, he told season ticket holders he intended to sign with Boston long-term this summer, though that changed as Irving and the Celtics struggled to find their chemistry on the court. He called out Boston’s young players on numerous occasions, got snippy with reporters about his free agency, and reportedly had a “tiff” with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge throughout the season.
Despite all that, Irving had a stellar regular season for the Celtics on the floor in 2018-19, leading the team with 23.8 points per game while adding a career-high 6.9 assists and five rebounds per contest. He shot a ridiculous 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range, earning him his sixth career All-Star nod and a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.
But Boston’s chemistry issues proved to be too much in the playoffs, as they were eliminated in embarrassing fashion by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semis. Boston won their first five playoff games, easily sweeping the undermanned Indiana Pacers in the first round and blowing out the Bucks by 22 points in Game 1 of the second round, only to drop four straight to end their season. Three of those losses were by double figures. Irving essentially mailed it in over those last four games, going 25-for-83 from the floor while shooting an abysmal 19 percent from downtown. He took no accountability for Boston’s downfall after that Game 5 loss, instead praising the Bucks.
Irving is an extremely gifted offensive player with an array of moves that very few have ever possessed, but his legacy in Boston will be remembered quite differently. The Celtics are reportedly the favorites to now sign free agent point guard Kemba Walker to a max contract.
The Nets, meanwhile, will reportedly be adding Irving, Durant, and Deandre Jordan. Though Durant is coming off a torn Achilles, the three additions figure to reshape the Eastern Conference in a big way quite quickly.