So last nights 116-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks put an end to frustrating Celtics season. A season full of ups and downs, then more downs, then one night of Al Horford can guard Giannis based ups followed finally by 4 emphatic downs. In the end the Bucks were just better. A 60 win team built around a 7 foot, foul-line dunking, shot blocking monster in Mr. Antetokounmpo were just too much to handle for a team riddled with chemistry issues that have been obvious for months. Turns out you are what your record says you are and in the Celtics case thats ‘Inconsistent’. But with the end of the playoffs begins an arguably even more important stretch for the Celtics that will culminate in the free agency decision of one Kyrie Irving. As you will probably know, due to the fact the Kyrie hasn’t shut up about it all season, Kyrie will be a free agent this summer and his decision is far from a sure thing. In a season that began with Irving offering up the statement that he would resign if “Boston will have me” and ended with the quote “I don’t owe anybody shit” only an idiot would try and predict a landing spot.
Predicting Kyrie Irving’s Landing Spot
The odds on favourite a few months ago, the Celtics now sit 3rd at +350 to retain Irving. The pros are obvious. Kyrie wanted to lead a team. He left Cleveland in order to do so and with a supporting cast of young guys, a returning Gordon Hayward and the deferential Horford there is no doubt that this is Kyrie’s team. If he is willing to give his long term future to the Celtics there is also a good chance his supporting cast could be packaged to land superstar forward Anthony Davis which would instantly give Boston the star power needed to compete at the top of an ever improving Eastern Conference.
Having been raised in New Jersey, both New York teams could be seen as a kind of homecoming destination. Coming of a expectation topping season, Brooklyn has a young and exciting core plus a New York market and a great coach that make it a potential landing spot for multiple big free agents. For Kyrie though I don’t really see the draw. To leave Boston for Brooklyn would be giving up on the leadership role on a young team in a great city to be the leader of a different young team in a different great city. Now maybe this season has shown him he isn’t cut out to be the number one guy and if he doesn’t see Hayward as a second star he may be looking at the potential to link up with another free agent in Brooklyn. The nets would have to let D’Angelo Russel walk and likely package Allan Crabbe to a first round pick to do it but thats easy if you think you’re getting Kyrie and maybe Kevin Durant instead.
New York Knicks
If joining up with another star is top of Kyrie’s list then the Knicks may just be the place to do it. Rumours of an all but signed contract to bring back to back finals MVP Kevin Durant to the Big Apple have been circulating all year and if Kyrie is happy going back to being number two then the rest of the league better watch out. With the Porzingis trade to Dallas the Knicks already have the cap space to sign both and the chance to bring meaningful playoff basketball back to MSG could be too much to turn down. This would however be Durant’s team and Kyrie would be putting himself right back where he was so desperate to escape from, the shadow of a generational talent.
In my opinion I think he stays in Boston. He hasn’t proved he can lead a team to its true potential and to move on before doing so would forever stain his legacy as a superstar player. Despite what you hear the Celtics are in a good place. They have young talent that will come back stronger after a season of media scrutiny that none of them have felt before and if Hayward can keep improving on his way back from injury they have a great chance to compete again next year. Philly have huge contract decisions to make and Kawhi may walk right out of Toronto. Giannis is going to be a problem for a while though. May want to go out and get Anthony Davis just in case.