The two were so candid with one another that Irving informed Ainge late in the campaign that leaving Boston was a strong possibility.
"He did express to me on a couple of occasions between March and the end of (the season) that he really wanted to go home," Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich." "I got the impression at that point that he wanted to go play in Brooklyn more than he wanted to play in New York."
Irving grew up in the nearby New Jersey area and was a fan of the Nets before their move to Brooklyn. His father still resides in the same West Orange, N.J. home that Irving lived in during his youth.
However, Ainge is adamant that the former Rookie of the Year "never closed the door" on re-signing with the Celtics.
"He didn't inform me that he was gone," he said. "He didn't inform me that he didn't like Boston. He didn't inform me that he was for sure gone.
"(Brooklyn was) where his heart was and I think he was going to look into that. But he wanted to take some time and decompress and figure it all out."
Ainge said it wasn't until after the draft that his club "had an idea" that Irving was no longer going to remain with the Celtics and that there was a "pretty good indication" in the week leading up to the beginning of free agency that he was leaving.
Irving averaged 24.1 points and 6.1 assists per contest across a pair of All-Star seasons in Boston. The 27-year-old signed a reported four-year, $136-million with the Nets, according to Spotrac.
- With h/t to Boston.com