Last year’s Boston Celtics were defined by a point guard wearing No. 11. Wednesday afternoon, the team unveiled both their new point guard, Kemba Walker, and new No. 11, Enes Kanter, in what was hailed as a new day for the franchise.
Still, Kanter couldn’t help but take one poke at Kyrie Irving during the introductory press conference at the team’s practice facility.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal
“It was my old jersey number,” Kanter said, before adding with a smile, “and I wanted to be the reason no one else did,” referencing Irving’s Nike commercial shot at TD Garden with his father, Drederick, last fall, in which he said the same thing.
For the most part, though, Wednesday was about new beginnings in Boston. The franchise tried to turn the page on the past two years — which, for much of that time, seemed like the start of a long run in Boston for Irving. But over the final few months of last season the bloom was off the rose between the two sides, with an abrupt loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs — a round earlier than the Celtics reached without him a year earlier — marking the final time Irving would play for the team.
That was confirmed at the start of free agency, when he opted to leave as a free agent to join Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan with the Brooklyn Nets — a decision that didn’t come as a surprise to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“I think I had a pretty good idea in March or April,” Ainge said, when asked when he knew Irving would leave. “Not for sure though, not certain.new nike nfl jerseys cheap
“But I was obviously thinking a move in a different direction at that point, thinking of the different options.”
It turned out that once Irving and Al Horford, who opted out of the final year of his contract and wound up signing with another Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia 76ers, chose to leave town, those options centered on, according to Ainge, Walker and Kanter. Ainge said the two of them were the team’s top priorities in free agency after the draft, and that it was able to come to an agreement with Walker almost immediately after free agency opened at 6 p.m. on June 30.
Throughout the season, Walker had been open about wanting to remain in Charlotte, where he’d spent the first eight years of his career after winning a national championship at the University of Connecticut as a junior in 2011. Ultimately, though, he said the draw of being with a franchise that has consistently won — Boston has been in the playoffs five straight seasons, and has won at least one series in each of the last three of them — was too much to pass up.
After making the playoffs only twice in his career — and losing in the first round each time — Walker said he was ready to do more winning as he approaches his 30s.
“Throughout my career we just haven’t been consistent with winning,” Walker said. “I’m not saying that’s going to happen here, because I don’t know. I can’t see the future or anything like that, but I want to win. I want to be on a team that goes out and competes every night on a high level.