NBA

Celtics' Stevens addresses losing Irving, Horford in free agency

By Sports Desk July 09, 2019

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he expected the changes at Boston after their 2018-19 NBA season.

Boston lost star guard Kyrie Irving, along with forward Al Horford, in free agency, but acquired Kemba Walker in a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets.

Stevens addressed the team's recent moves when he met with reporters on Tuesday.

"Anytime you go through a year like we went through, where you don't necessarily meet expectations, there's probably going to be some change," Stevens said, via The Boston Globe.

Irving, who ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets, had a rough stint in Boston.

He was reportedly unhappy and had issues with team-mates as well as the coaching staff.

"I don't know if there's anything anyone individually necessarily feels like they should have done or could have done [to keep Irving]," Stevens said.

"That's part of free agency. You can go where you want at the end of the day. I enjoyed Kyrie. I like Kyrie, and I wish him nothing but health and success. I don't fault him one bit for choosing to follow whatever he wants to do. That's his right."

Horford was a vital member of the Celtics' rotation last season. He declined his $30.1million player option with Boston last month and was originally expected to return to the team on a three-year deal. But, the sides were reportedly far apart on a new contract and negotiations fell apart.

The 33-year-old then went on to ink a four-year contract, reportedly worth up to $109m, with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We loved Al, we wanted him back," Stevens said. "Again, it's his choice. He can go do what he wants to do and there's a lot of factors that end up helping these guys make those decisions. But he's a heck of a player and did a great job here in the three years he was here."

Walker, meanwhile, has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons and was named to the All-NBA third team in 2018-19.

"[Walker] is a great player," Stevens said. "And he's been able to continue to get better and better and better as his career has gone on. He's made himself into an excellent shooter, he's great off pick and rolls, he's got incredible speed, can see the game, can read the game. He's an awfully good player, and we're excited he decided to come to Boston."

The Celtics entered the season as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

Boston also brought in center Enes Kanter while Marcus Morris is reportedly reconsidering his commitment to the San Antonio Spurs and may end up landing with the New York Knicks.

Related items

  • Anthony Davis sprains thumb as Nets top Lakers again in China Anthony Davis sprains thumb as Nets top Lakers again in China

    Anthony Davis became the latest star to suffer an injury during NBA preseason as the Brooklyn Nets eased to a 91-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in China.

    Davis suffered a sprained thumb midway through the first quarter, joining the Nets' Kyrie Irving on the sidelines after he aggravated a facial injury in the sides' previous meeting on Thursday.

    Star Lakers signing Davis tweaked his thumb while going up to block a shot at the rim, staying in the game for a short period before heading to the locker room for further evaluation.

    He came back to the sidelines with an ice pack taped to his right hand and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

    Davis served as the starting center, finishing the game with six points while shooting 2-of-7 from the field - both buckets coming off assists from LeBron James.

    The former New Orleans Pelicans superstar added three rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes before leaving due to the injury.

    Los Angeles were able to keep it close through the first half but saw the Nets pull clear in the third quarter as Caris LeVert shone in Irving's absence.

    LeVert left the previous clash early with a knock, but he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Taurean Prince also played a big role off the bench with 14 points.

    The game brought to an end a trip to China that has been clouded in controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Daryl Morey earlier this week, with the Houston Rockets GM supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

    The two scheduled fixtures went ahead but all media availability was cancelled, overshadowing what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of its key international markets.

    As the teams return to the United States, the Lakers' next preseason game is set for Monday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

    The Nets host the Toronto Raptors next on Friday at Barclays Center.

  • Zion Williamson wows with 26 points in Pelicans home debut Zion Williamson wows with 26 points in Pelicans home debut

    Zion Williamson rose to the occasion on his first home match as an NBA player, scoring a game-high 26 points in the New Orleans Pelicans' preseason win over the Utah Jazz.

    The Pelicans triumphed 128-127, with Williamson's impressive points tally coming in only 23 minutes on the court.

    Drafted number one overall ahead of the 2019-20 season, the 19-year-old also had five rebounds and a plus-minus of +13, the best recorded by a player on either team.

    Williamson shot 9-of-12 from the field, draining his only three-point attempt from 25 feet of the match to score his first in the professional ranks.

    He battled with the Jazz's defensive star Rudy Gobert, delighting the sold-out crowd at the Smoothie King Center by making two layups against the Frenchman, collecting two fouls and following up his one miss in their enthralling head-to-head with a two-handed slam.

    "You gotta give him respect, two-time Defensive Player of the Year," Williamson said of Gobert after the game. 

    "I just went in there strong and tried to finish."

    Of his first career three, Williamson added: "It was great, my first instinct was how to get back on defense as coach gets upset about that. 

    "Hopefully I get a lot more of them throughout the year.

    "It was great to finally get out here and see the support we have here in New Orleans. I'm glad they came out, hopefully we'll see them all season. I hope I can continue to play the way I am."

    Prior to facing the Jazz, he had 29 points in 27 minutes against the Chicago Bulls after a 16-point debut against the Atlanta Hawks.

    Gobert took solace in not being dunked on by Williamson but said: "He has a great future ahead of him.

    "He's kind of surprisingly agile and I think he catches a lot of people off guard because of that. He can change direction pretty quick."

  • Nets' Irving won't face Lakers due to facial fracture Nets' Irving won't face Lakers due to facial fracture

    Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will not face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday's NBA preseason fixture after aggravating a facial fracture.

    Irving left Brooklyn's 114-111 win over the Lakers early on Thursday due to the problem he suffered over the offseason.

    The Nets announced on Friday that Irving will not feature against the Lakers at Shenzhen Dayun Arena in China.

    Irving suffered the injury just one minute into Thursday's contest after being bumped by Lakers guard Rajon Rondo. He did not record a point, rebound or assist.

    This is not Irving's first run-in with this kind of injury.

    The 27-year-old point guard suffered a minor facial fracture playing for the Boston Celtics in November 2017 after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face during a game.

    He also broke his jaw in December 2012 while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Whether this problem will affect his success in his first season with the Nets remains to be seen.

    Irving signed a four-year, $141million deal in the offseason alongside Kevin Durant, who also signed a max contract but will likely miss all of 2019-20 recovering from an Achilles injury.

    A six-time All-Star, Irving has averaged 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in his career.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.