Kyrie Irving reportedly recruited Anthony Davis before deciding to leave Celtics

"Obviously Kyrie had a falling out with Boston at some point there."

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving reportedly recruited Anthony Davis to play for the Celtics in 2018-19. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The 2018-19 season inexorably altered the course of the Celtics so much that it can be easy to forget the team’s goal was once to acquire Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis.

But at the time, pursuing an Irving/Davis pairing was pretty reasonable — Davis was unhappy in New Orleans, and the Celtics had plenty of excess star power, especially after Jayson Tatum’s breakout rookie season. The Celtics could — most people reasoned — trade Tatum to the Pelicans, keep Jaylen Brown and have an impressive new trio with Davis, Brown, and Irving (as well as Gordon Hayward).

Eventually, of course, everything fell apart — Irving decided he wanted to leave, Davis vociferously decided he did not want to play for the Celtics, Tatum had a disappointing season (which he now regrets), Hayward wasn’t healthy, Brown wasn’t healthy. Even Terry Rozier’s miserable season came back to bite the Celtics — instead of simply signing him to a deal, they gave Kemba Walker a max contract.


Still, Irving reportedly was ready to buy-in. Per Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett, citing NBA sources, Irving did in fact recruit Davis to join the Celtics after he told Celtics season-ticket holders that he planned to re-sign with the team before the season began.

Bulpett, who spoke to a source with the Pelicans, wrote that at some point Davis and Irving had a “falling out.”

“‘A falling out’ is an interesting way to put it, because obviously Kyrie had a falling out with Boston at some point there,” another source told Bulpett.

While the Celtics had huge goals for their roster, it’s not entirely clear in 2022 whether the team should be upset that everything fell apart. Certainly some things could have gone better (signing Walker to a max deal eventually cost them a draft pick to get rid of him, for instance), but Irving hasn’t proven he can be a winning player since he joined the Nets, and Davis hasn’t been everything the Lakers hoped he would be alongside LeBron James.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, meanwhile, are one of the best young duos in the league and they led the Celtics on a nine-game winning streak before the All-Star break. Given their age and the struggles of their targets over the years, the Celtics might have had something of a serendipitous disaster in 2018-19.


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