As far as Danny Ainge is concerned, the invitations can be sent out because the wedding is still on.
The Boston Celtics president of basketball operations on Friday said the team’s “engagement” to star guard Kyrie Irving remains intact, and the couple is planning on making it official on July 1, when teams can sign free agents.
“The way I viewed the situation is that I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that it was a marriage,” Ainge said Friday on Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub. “And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1st. I think that engagement is still on, as far as I know.
“In my individual conversations with Kyrie, we’re still engaged but we really can’t make those vows, sign that contract until July 1st.”
Last week, Irving, who can opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer, didn’t seem as committed to a long-term relationship as he had prior to the start of the season, though he did say that the Celtics remain “at the head of the race” regarding free agency.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career, and that’s just where it stands. That’s just where it stands,” Irving said Feb. 1. “… Ask me July 1st.”
Also remaining to be seen is whether New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis will join the procession. The Celtics’ hopes of landing the star — possibly by including Jayson Tatum in an offer after the season — were buoyed when Davis, a friend of Irving, stayed put at the trade deadline.
League sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Celtics have promised to be aggressive with their wealth of draft and player assets to try to acquire Davis, and that Ainge is eager to pair Davis with Irving. Sources also said the Celtics also believe that a deal for Davis will help solidify Irving’s confidence in re-signing with the organization.
Due to an NBA rule, the Celtics are not allowed to trade for Davis until Irving becomes a free agent.
Davis, however, didn’t include the Celtics this week on his list of teams he would stay with long term upon a trade, league sources told Wojnarowski. And Davis’ father told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne last week that he wouldn’t want his son to play in Boston, though he wasn’t speaking on behalf of Davis either.
In October, Irving essentially committed to staying with the Celtics long term in front of thousands of fans at a team event. However, last week, he chalked that statement up to “excitement” and “feeling emotionally invested” at that time.
Since then, Irving has expressed frustration with Boston’s inconsistent play at different points throughout the season. However, he remains confident the group can find consistency and play to its potential.
The Celtics (35-20) are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings entering Friday’s games.
ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.