Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Cavs GM hints that Kyrie Irving has interest in joining Celtics

Ty Anderson
August 07, 2017 - 9:37 pm

The rumors that linked Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics always seemed like stuff right out of your local ESPN NBA Trade Machine or saved 2K franchise. Even when the Celtics called the Cavs, it almost seemed like Celtics president Danny Ainge was just doing his part as an executive seeing if a star player was truly available.

But it turns out that there may be some mutual interest.

Speaking with ESPN’s “The Jump” for the first time since his departure from Cleveland, ex-Cavs general manager David Griffin surely hinted at the Celtics being on Irving’s list of teams he’d prefer to be traded to before the start of the 2017 season.

“Most guys don’t have the courage to do what [Irving] did,” Griffin said. “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 Popovich.

“I think this is a guy that wants to know how good he can be. LeBron casts a very large shadow over an organization, and most of it is really, really positive,” Griffin continued. “You know you’re expected to win a championship, by way of example, but what that doesn’t always allow is for a player like Kyrie to test his boundaries a little bit and see how good he can really be. And can I actually be the frontman of a team like that?”

And that was not the only time that Griffin not-so-subtly 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,” said 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.”

It goes without saying that it would take an awful lot for the C’s to pry Irving away from the Cavaliers, but it would be borderline impossible for any other team in the NBA to match a potential package that the Celtics could send to Cleveland to make it happen.

It’s also been hypothesized that a package for Irving would center around Isaiah Thomas (entering a contract year and openly seeking a max contract), forward Jae Crowder (for salary purposes), and one of their prized future first-round draft picks.

Irving, a four-time All-Star drafted by the Cavs with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, set career-highs with 25.2 points per game and a 47.3 field goal percentage last season.

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