By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Given how things ended between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics, there is a lot of ill will aimed toward the point guard among Boston fans. But as it turns out, Irving kind of did the Celtics a solid on his way out the door.
And if that doesn’t quell the vitriol toward Irving, it sounds like things aren’t off to a great start in Brooklyn, either.
But before we get to the present, let’s go back to the past. Irving’s departure from Boston was an unceremonious one, and just about everyone knew that he was gone as soon as Boston’s disappointing postseason ended with a five-game ousting by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. Irving had known that he was bound for Brooklyn for some time, and he made that clear in his exit interview with Danny Ainge, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan:
Irving, whose relationship with the Celtics had soured, said he told Danny Ainge in his exit interview that he was moving on. He had already decided where he was headed: back home to Brooklyn and all the possibilities it offered — not to the Knicks, which felt stagnant and stale.
That heads up won’t stop a smattering of boos from following Irving up the floor when he returns to Boston on Nov. 27, but maybe Celtics fans will have a little less anger toward the mercurial star. In giving Ainge that courtesy, and not dragging things out, Irving allowed the Celtics to promptly turn their focus to the free agent market — instead of dwelling on the wishful thinking that Irving would return. That put them in prime position to land Kemba Walker, whom they gave a max contract to just minutes after free agency opened.
Maybe Ainge’s proclamation that Kemba and center Enes Kanter were their “Plan A” in free agency wasn’t so much of a stretch after all. Ainge knew that Irving was gone shortly after the Celtics season came to an end, and he quickly drew up a new game plan for the summer.
And if Celtics fans aren’t ready to move on from Irving, MacMullan included another nugget about his famous “mood swings,” which are already showing up in Brooklyn and making Nets officials feel a little “queasy” about their franchise guard.
Yet Irving’s infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn’s trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it.
The Nets are hoping that Kevin Durant’s return next season will help Kyrie’s mood, but that is a long ways away. It’s only been four months since Irving returned home to Brooklyn, and he’s only played three games for the team, but his attitude is already making some in Brooklyn feel uncomfortable.
Irving hasn’t let it get in the way of his game, as he’s averaged 37.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds over his first three games in Brooklyn. The Nets, however, are just 1-2 with a pair of overtime losses.