Jeff Goodman makes no bones about it: Kyrie Irving was an issue with the Celtics this past season.
Appearing on the Mut & Callahan Show Tuesday morning Goodman -- The Stadium's Basketball Insider -- offered pointed insight as to what the dynamic looked like with Irving trying to guide the Celtics throughout the 2018-19 season.
"He’s not a leader and he’s not going to be a leader and he’s too about himself," Goodman said. "When he’s on the court it’s too much dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble and then get a guy late in the shot clock. I think it was more than Kyrie. I think part of it was how Brad (Stevens) handled Gordon Hayward and guys like (Jayson)Tatum, like (Marcus) Morris, like Jaylen Brown all felt like they should be getting more reps, more minutes and into more of a rhythm and Gordon Hayward wasn’t necessarily deserving of the minutes he was getting. I understand the quandary Brad was in. You’re trying to see if you can get Gordon back to All-Star form, and you have a relationship. And all the things Gordon went through with the injury you want to give him every opportunity to get him back to what he was. But let’s face it, Gordon Hayward was himself once every 10 games and these guys saw that. It was clear and they felt like, ‘I’m getting short stints minute-wise. Why is he playing ahead of me? Why is he getting those minutes?’ So I feel it was more than Kyrie but if you’re assigning blame I would probably put Kyrie with the lion’s share."
ON WHY IT HASN'T WORKED
"I guess I gave Brad too much credit or maybe Kyrie not enough credit, thinking they would figure it out because Brad Stevens is a guy you never heard a bad word about. Everybody respects him. Everybody likes him. But again Kyrie, to me, has become unlikable. He really has. Off the court for sure with his condescending manner and moodiness. I heard all of this in Cleveland. A lot of people did not like Kyrie in Cleveland because you didn’t know what to expect from him on any given day. It was the same thing at Duke. He’s been this way. I felt if there was a guy who could change him it would be Brad Stevens. I was wrong."
ON IF THE CELTICS WILL TRY AND KEEP IRVING
"I think they will do what they can to keep him because Danny Ainge understands you can’t win without high-end talent and he feels the best scenario would be to try to keep Kyrie and then bring in Anthony Davis and then maybe the dynamic changes a little bit. Maybe Brad kind of figures it out a little bit. He’s got to be a little bit tougher or have a different relationship with Kyrie. There are days where Kyrie is great to deal with and that’s the hard part when you talk to people in the Cavs organization or the Celtics organization, you just don’t know what you’re going to get any given day on the court or off the court. Look at Game 1 of the series how great he was. All about getting his teammates involved. Scoring when he needed to. And then you have the final game and what did he have, one assist?"
ON THE FRUSTRATION THAT IRVING HASN'T SUCCEEDED
"You couldn’t have walked into a better situation. Let’s face it, he got lucky coming here to Boston. Being the guy. He wanted to be the guy. This is your team. You’re going to have the ball in your hands at the end of the game. You have a coach who is about as easy to deal with as any human being on this planet. You have good young players. But you just couldn’t figure it out. And really I would question KD (Kevin Durant) more than Kyrie. If you’re KD, why would you want to play with Kyrie? You did this with Russell Westbrook. It’s the same situation and it didn’t work."
ON IRVING'S RELATIONSHIP WITH JAYSON TATUM
"I can’t see Kyrie going again and being the little brother. That’s how I felt he did with Jayson Tatum. He treated Jayson Tatum like LeBron treated Kyrie when he first got to Cleveland. You’re my little brother and I don’t want you to get to this level. I do think Jayson Tatum one day is going to be a Hall of Famer. I felt his growth this year was stunted. I felt he didn’t have the opportunity to grow. I felt it was partly Kyrie, partly Gordon Hayward. After watching him in the playoffs last year he wanted to make it clear this was his team. If he would have done what I think he should have done which is make sure everybody else is happy on this team. There are a lot of mouths to feed. Make sure everybody else is happy. Sacrifice your own numbers, your points, and if you do that at the end of the game everybody isn’t going to be able to double- and triple-team you. That to me was his biggest job this year, was to make sure this team was ready for the playoffs and he didn’t do that."
ON WHO DANNY AINGE WOULD PICK IF IRVING TRIED TO FORCE OUT BRAD STEVENS
"I actually think Danny Ainge would pick Brad Stevens if that scenario was presented to him. At this point, Danny Ainge, who usually talent trumps everything else with him, but at this point he understands, you know what, it’s not going to work with Kyrie Irving at the highest level in winning a title. But he would have a dilemma on his hands if he knew he was going to get Anthony Davis then maybe he would have a decision to make but I don’t think he would get to that point. Here’s my deal, I don’t think it’s about Brad Stevens with Kyrie. I think it’s just about everybody. I think no matter who you have, Phil Jackson, if you have John Wooden, whoever it was I think Kyrie thinks he knows more than that coach."