The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics finally agreed to a trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston, uniting him with the Celtics’ big free agent signing Gordon Hayward.
Hayward and Irving now make up a new-look Celtics team that boasts considerable talent, star power, and depth, but if they had it their way, they may have been united years ago.
In 2014, after inking an extension with the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving helped the team try to recruit Hayward, then a restricted free agent with the Utah Jazz. However, little did they know — and, according to reports, the Cavaliers for the most part — that a big-time free agent was eyeing a return to Cleveland.
As Hayward and Irving recalled at their introductory press conference with the Celtics on Friday, LeBron James’ return to Cleveland “squashed” their plans.
“I actually went to Cleveland on a visit when I was a restricted free agent, and Kyrie came in and was saying how much fun it’d be if I was on the team and kinda recruited me to go there,” Hayward said.
“And then LeBron came and that kinda squashed that whole thing.”
Irving could only laugh alongside of him.
As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst once recalled on Zach Lowe’s podcast “The Lowe Post,” Irving had signed an extension before he knew of James’ return to Cleveland. Likewise, though James and his team had dropped hints of returning, the Cavs weren’t entirely sure that they could actually land James. They recruited Hayward, then later had to pull out when they needed the cap space to sign James. Hayward signed an offer with the Charlotte Hornets, but the Jazz ended up matching it.
Now Hayward and Irving have a chance to play together again. Irving said on Friday that he hadn’t talked to James since the trade, but it seems safe to say that James probably isn’t going to leave Cleveland for Boston and break up the Irving-Hayward tandem again.
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