Hornets guard Kemba Walker

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The Kemba Walker Era came together oddly quickly

Nick Friar
June 30, 2019 - 12:30 am

On June 24, it looked like the Celtics were left with their young core, Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward. Kyrie Irving was leaving, so was Al Horford. Terry Rozier was the logical option to take over as the new starting point guard.

The next day, the C’s are reportedly “stealth suitors” for Kemba Walker. Fast forward to Saturday and reports indicate Walker is fully expected to make his commitment to Boston at the start of NBA free agency. (He can officially sign on July 6.) This all seems to have happened fairly seamlessly. The problem is I can’t tell if that’s a good sign because the Celtics, more or less, landed on their feet after they’d been declared dead, or if it’s something else.

By “something else,” I mean, what if the Celtics gave up on Irving before he gave up on them? What if moving on from him has been in the works for a while?

The driving force behind this line of questioning is that a “league exec who’s dealt with the Celtics” told the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett he “knows for a fact the club would have been willing to trade Irving for Walker over the past two years.”

The Celtics’ reported involvement in the Anthony Davis situation seems to contradict this notion, especially considering Bulpett himself reported the complications surrounding Irving impacted the way Boston approached the deal. But if this is “fact,” there are two takeaways, and they essentially go hand-in-hand:

One, the Celtics lost faith in Irving quickly. Two, this is the type of thing that could lead players to not want to play for the Celtics.

It’s not a matter of Boston being correct or not. It’s the fact the Celtics could give up on someone in such a short period of time. How is anyone expected to be themselves in a situation where the people in charge stop believing them that fast?

Maybe Ainge had a short leash on the situation because of the length of Irving’s contract. Maybe the C’s were trying to anticipate Irving’s decision regarding his future. Or it simply could have been Boston didn’t like what they saw and wanted to try something different.

Now, on its own, trading Isaiah Thomas for Irving had to be done. But the Celtics giving up on the team’s best player, then the very next guy — who’s supposed to be the better of the two — is bizarre.

Conversely, Ainge could have sniffed out the problem and planned to set something in motion that’s similar to what we’re seeing now.

Either way, what’s to say this won’t happen again?

I recognize everyone is bouncing around the league left and right. All you have to do is spend two seconds on Twitter to figure that out. But at some point, we have to ask if the Celtics are stuck on a hamster wheel. And if they are, why can’t they get themselves off it?