The Boston Celtics advanced to Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving and lost in five games in the 2019 second round with him, but general manager Danny Ainge said it's unfair to place all the blame on the point guard's shoulders.
"It's unfortunate that one person gets credit or blame for a team's failures," he said Wednesday, per ESPN.com. "We had a lot of reasons the team did not succeed this year. Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not any more than anybody else."
Ainge also said he doesn't regret trading for Irving even though the Duke product has a player option on his contract and can become a free agent this offseason:
Irving struggled in the Celtics' five-game loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the postseason, shooting a mere 35.2 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from three-point range.
However, the angst dated back to the regular season when Boston dealt with inconsistency and finished with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference despite elevated expectations following last season's run.
Young players such as Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had larger roles when Irving and Gordon Hayward were sidelined but then had to incorporate themselves into the offense as secondary options again. Winning streaks were met with losing streaks, and a team many expected to steamroll to the Finals after LeBron James went west fell short.
Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com detailed some of the issues in February, pointing out some of the young players were "frustrated with Irving" after he "repeatedly aired his grievances" about them through the media and criticized head coach Brad Stevens.
Irving also said he was going to re-sign with the Celtics during the previous summer but then took a much different tone in the regular season when he said, "Ask me July 1."
Ainge didn't provide many specifics when asked about that future on Wednesday, saying, "I don't know. There's not much I can say about that, honestly, but there's ongoing conversations."