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Jayson Tatum says he and Kyrie Irving are still very close

Celtics, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving

Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum says he’s still very close with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving signed a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency after playing the past two seasons with the Celtics.

Tatum says Irving’s decision to leave Boston for Brooklyn “doesn’t change the dynamic of our friendship.”

Via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

Tatum and Irving grew close over the past two years, thanks in part to both sharing an alma mater — both played one year at Duke before entering the NBA — and an agent in Jeff Weschler. While things changed this summer, Tatum said he and Irving still talk regularly, and that his departure from Boston didn’t impact their friendship.

“We still keep in touch,” Tatum said. “That’s like family. We talk often. Nothing in particular, nothing specific about last season, just friend talk.

“I’m all for guys doing what’s best for them. It doesn’t change the dynamic of our friendship.”

Celtics guard Marcus Smart said earlier this week all the players on the team got along with each other last season, but that they were never able to make it all work out on the court.

The Celtics were the preseason favorite to win the East in 2018-19, but they were a dysfunctional unit all season.

Boston lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second-round of the 2019 playoffs in five games. Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets on the first day of free agency. The Celtics replaced Irving with three-time All-Star Kemba Walker, who was in Paris with Jayson Tatum earlier this summer.

Tatum and Walker talked about playing together on the Celtics while they were in Paris. Walker said at his introductory press conference Tatum played a big role in getting him to Boston.

Smart defended Irving all last season, while Tatum is still friends with Kyrie. It shows the way the media painted Irving as a bad guy was false.