Draymond Green wasn’t necessarily expecting to see Kyrie Irving suit up for the Boston Celtics this season, but he also wasn’t surprised to learn of the All-Star point guard’s trade request.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it surprised me,” Green told reporters Tuesday. “I would have say more than anything, it’s the level of respect I have for him. That’s tough to do. I don’t think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that.
It makes sense that Green, among other players, weren’t completely taken aback by the end result between Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re privy to dynamics and issues and secrets we can only dream of knowing, and Green specifically understands that his team, the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, is having a far-flung impact on the rest of the league.
Yes, the Cavaliers have made it to three straight NBA Finals. And sure, they’re primed for another cameo. But the Warriors are so far out of reach, players can seek out new situations with a certain frequency that ends up being free from regret. Either you’re trying to upgrade your title chances, or you understand that the Warriors are so untouchable you might as well pursue other interests—such as playing away from LeBron James, or going somewhere you will be considered the alpha option.
Irving’s situation in Boston doesn’t really fulfill the latter. He and Gordon Hayward are on equal playing ground. Hayward, as the better player, might even be a level above. But he has witnessed firsthand, for three straight years, even when the Cavaliers escaped with a championship in 2016 how menacing and dominant this iteration of the Warriors is. Mix in whatever beef he had with James and the organization, and it’s hardly surprising to find out that players like Green aren’t exactly taken aback by his departure.