Boston Celtics experienced a turbulent NBA free agency this summer as they lost superstar guard Kyrie Irving and All-Star center Al Horford. The Celtics signed former Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker and Turkish international Enes Kanter to replace Kyrie and Horford, and the franchise is opening a new chapter as they prepare for the next season.
Kemba got the number 8 jersey while Kanter got Irving’s old number 11. Enes even joked about Irving Kyrie during the official unveiling. “It was my old jersey number,” Kanter said, before continuing with a smile, “and I wanted to be the reason no one else did,” which is exactly what Kyrie said during Nike commercial at TD Garden with his father, Drederick, a year ago.
During the presentation, Walker was a bit more serious than Kanter. He stated that although he had desire to stay with the Charlotte Hornets for a few more seasons, a move to the Celtics will allow him to record more wins in the years to come.
“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. Watching Boston over the years, man, that’s just what they’ve done. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve competed at a very high level each and every year, been in the playoffs every year, and I want to be a part of something like that. So that was kind of some of the things that went into my decision.”
Kyrie Irving had a somewhat strange relationships with younger players during his stay at TD Garden, and Kemba will certainly try to develop stronger bond with young players. He already has a healthy relationship with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who will, alongside Kanter and Gordon Hayward, represent the core of this squad in the next campaign. Walker is hoping that he and the rest of the squad will get along.
“I think so,” Walker said. “I think my skills complement these guys. I love to get in the lane and I’m gonna have a lot of attention. That’ll definitely open up opportunities for other guys, but for the most part, I think I made my teammates better in other ways, just being a good teammate, wanting the best for those guys and pushing them as much as possible. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”