“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving spoke those words in front of the fans at TD Garden last Thursday, much to the delight of the crowd. Irving had previously hinted at wanting to stay in Boston, and his first definitive statement about doing so came as a surprise to the fans gathered for the event.
The timing of the declaration also came as a surprise to Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations.
“Kyrie just wanted to make that announcement then. I didn’t know he was going to make it then and there,” Ainge said Thursday during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”
“I think it’s kind of neat that he did it where he did it, with all of the fans there on that night.”
Irving had told Ainge, along with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, that he loved Boston and wanted to stay prior to his announcement last week. Though the timing of the announcement may have surprised Ainge, he knew it was coming eventually.
“The fact that he wanted to announce that and just get it out there was not surprising to us,” Ainge said. “We felt like we were going to move forward with Kyrie for years to come. We had talked about it a little bit, but I guess that was just when he was ready to tell everybody he wanted to stay.”
Despite the Celtics guard’s early announcement, all negotiations and contract talk will have to wait until July 1. Even though conversations have to be put on hold until next summer, Ainge is optimistic.
“We’re excited that he wants to be a Boston Celtic,” Ainge said.