"I could't be more proud of what they experienced - I mean, they went to Game 7 of the frickin' Eastern Conference finals". Especially looking at [JR Smith] and Tristan [Thompson] and LeBron and myself, and the guys that have come and gone from our 2016 team and what we were able to do to overcome a 3-1 deficit [in the Finals], and how we were able to win those games.
Just as the Celtics rejuvenated themselves under head coach Brad Stevens, James was there to meet the franchise at the rim again, this time having returned to the wine-and-gold.
Irving would probably be the one Ainge would look to deal, as his contract expires following the 2018-19 campaign and he has yet to guarantee a return to Boston.
After watching what the Warriors did to the Cavaliers in the Finals, Irving nearly seems bold for talking about a championship.
The good takeaway from that reply is that Irving has his sights set on competing for a title with the Celtics next year.
Well, according to Adam Kaufman, a beat reporter for the Boston Celtics, there's a slim chance Boston would consider trading their star free agent signing from 2017, but if they did, they better be ready to face the vast backlash. He lives in the now, and knows it's not in his best interest to give up his only leverage with Boston come next summer. The bad takeaway is he isn't talking about an extended future with the Celtics.
What would it take for the Boston Celtics to trade star small forward Gordon Hayward.
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However, Irving grew disgruntled in Cleveland. He raved about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, then noted how Marcus Smart gave up his body and "that's the type of attitude and effort you'd love to be part of". However, James averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds on 54.2 percent shooting in 82 games during the regular season before having the best postseason anyone has ever seen.
"For sure", Irving said. Of course the teams would, it would save them tens of millions of dollars and get star players under control earlier.
As for the draft, the Celtics have 27th pick and should be able to find a solid bench player at that point.
Is giving up Hayward, Morris and Rozier to land James worth it? It's felt like a number of seasons in one.
Which team will LeBron James play for next season?
Irving could be the no-questions-asked leader of a championship-caliber team in a big market if he remains in Boston.