NBA Rumors: Gordon Hayward Handling Added to Celtics Dysfunction, Irving’s Decision to Leave

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith doubled down on his report that Irving was leaving Boston & said Gordon Hayward has something to do with it.

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith keeps “reporting” things he’s “hearing” about Kyrie Irving and his future. Earlier in the week ESPN’s resident bloviator reported that Irving was definitely leaving the Boston Celtics this summer and head to Brooklyn to play for his hometown Nets. Adrian Wojnarowski fanned the flames on that rumor on Thursday.

Smith hedged a bit on Thursday’s “First Take” saying Irving going to the Nets was contingent on one thing.

“He’s trying to convince (Kevin Durant) to come to Brooklyn with him,” Smith said. “Obviously, KD is the alpha dog here, it ain’t Kyrie. So if KD wants to stay in Golden State, he stays. If he wants to go to the Knicks, Kyrie will probably follow. But Kyrie’s trying to get him to Brooklyn.

“But in the end, Kyrie ain’t going back to Boston, not from what I’m hearing. He’s not going back to Boston.”

Irving had a rough go of it this year meshing with some of the Celtics younger players. But according to Smith it was the Celtics handling of Gordon Hayward that was a much larger issue than many believed.

“This past year, there were things that entered the equation from a bureaucratic perspective, as far as I’m concerned: justifying Gordon Hayward’s contract,” Smith said. “Brad Stevens, that’s the man he coached at Butler in college. ‘We want to make sure we take care of him.’ And you had cats like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and others sitting there looking at him going, ‘Nice guy, we love him. When he gets healthy, we got all the faith in the world (in) him. But clearly, he’s not ready and you’re asking us to take a back-step in order to ingratiate him back into the proceedings.’ You had guys who had a problem with that and it’s my contention that had a lot to do with Boston’s struggles last season.”