Kyrie Irving leaving Celtics for Nets in free agency didn't surprise Danny Ainge: 'He really wanted to go home'
Boston's team president had the impression that Kyrie would pick the Brooklyn Nets over the New York Knicks
On Thursday, Celtics team president Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich," and revealed that Irving "wanted to go play" in New York, seeing that he's from the area.
"He did express to me on a couple of occasions between March and the end of [the season] that he really wanted to go home," Ainge said. "I got the impression at that point that he wanted to go play in Brooklyn more than he wanted to play in New York."
Irving ended up leaving Boston to sign a four-year, $136 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets and joined forces with All-Star forward Kevin Durant in the process.
It was long expected that Irving would opt out of his deal and leave the Celtics despite making an announcement at the start of the 2018-19 campaign that he was going to remain in Boston for the long haul. Back in February, he told reporters he didn't "" heading into the offseason and urged reporters to hold all free agency questions for the summer.
Irving has spent the last two seasons with the Celtics after the franchise acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers. In two seasons in Boston, Irving put together averages of 24.1 points, 6.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
"He didn't inform me that he was gone," Ainge added. "He didn't inform me that he didn't like Boston. He didn't inform me that he was for sure gone.
"[Brooklyn was] where his heart was and I think he was going to look into that. But he wanted to take some time and decompress and figure it all out."
Ainge certainly wasn't surprised that Irving took his talents elsewhere considering the way the 2018-19 season ended for the Celtics. Boston fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals after winning the opening game of that series.
Now Irving will look to lead a talented Nets core in the coming seasons.
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