Celtics Co-Owner Pagliuca: 'I Almost Crashed My Car' Hearing About Kemba Walker

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2019

Newly acquired Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker smiles during a news conference at the Celtics' basketball practice facility, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Suffice it to say Celtics management is excited about the new talent in Boston.

Celtics principal owner Wyc Grousbeck heaped praise on Kemba Walker during a radio appearance last month, and co-owner Steve Pagliuca appears to have nearly injured himself in excitement over the signing.

"I almost crashed my car when I heard that," Pagliuca said Friday, per Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe.

Walker signed a four-year, $141 million max contract with Boston at the beginning of the free-agency period, effectively replacing Kyrie Irving as the face of the Celtics backcourt.

Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets, and the Celtics also lost Al Horford to Philadelphia to become one of the biggest losers from a talent standpoint this offseason. Enes Kanter signed with the Celtics to replace Horford, a move Danny Ainge praised in the press as their "Plan A."

"I've been watching Kemba also since he was at UConn," Ainge told reporters. "I fell in love with him at the Maui Classic in his junior year where I think the whole world realized how good he was then. But I was sitting there in the front row watching very closely and it was very exciting and just had great respect for him throughout his career."

While the mood remains publicly positive, even Pagliuca acknowledges the Celtics are not among the East favorites this season. However, he remained upbeat at the possibility they could sneak themselves into the conversation.

"We're not going into the year where there's kind of a clear favorite that everybody has to beat," he said. "There are probably six or eight teams that everybody has to beat, and hopefully we're one of them. It's going to be one of the most balanced and fun seasons we've seen in our whole regime."

Walker as the best player of a franchise has been a mixed bag at best. The Charlotte Hornets made the playoffs only twice during his career and were eliminated in the first round both times. It's fair to say he'll have a better supporting cast in Boston than he ever had in Charlotte, but that would require a major leap from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown after disappointing in 2018-19.

Still, signing Walker and remaining competitive appears to be the preferred outcome over tanking and going through a full rebuild.