Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Ainge traded for Kyrie Irving to 'give Celtics a chance'

Ty Anderson
September 29, 2017 - 3:13 pm

Celtics president Danny Ainge was always reluctant to move any first-round pick acquired from the Nets in exchange for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

But when Cleveland superstar guard Kyrie Irving was on the table, Ainge went against a lot of the ‘slow build’ idea that had been preached for years in countless non-trades, bit.

Why? Well, besides Irving averaging a career-high 25.2 points per game last year, having a history in the NBA finals, and having multiple years left on his current contract?

“I think that having signed Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, I feel a responsibility to give them a chance,” Ainge, who also parted with Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic as well a future second-round draft pick to acquire Irving, told CSNNE.com. “I think that Brooklyn pick could be very very exciting. I think Cleveland could have a really good pick there, but it’s probably going to be a big man that’s 19 years old that probably needs a couple of years to develop, and could develop into a franchise player.

“But Kyrie is proven as a sure thing as a guy that’s 25 [years old] and can really really play right now. I think that’s fair for Brad [Stevens], Gordon, and Al.”

It was essentially Ainge realizing that he only had so many elite years left in both Horford (who turned 31 earlier this year) and Hayward (turning 28 this season), and that injecting a 25-year-old Irving entering his prime would extend their championship for years beyond the current window built with Thomas (and his bum hip) in town.

Ainge also believes that adding Irving to mix helps bridge the gap between the C’s core pieces now and what the Celtics hope become their next wave of core talents.

“Also, it’ll give a chance for Jayson [Tatum], Jaylen [Brown] and all those guys to develop,” added Ainge. “We have some young guys who we're developing that are bright parts of the future, [including] Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.

“We have a young team that we feel like we can have together for a while.”

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