Kyrie Irving Throws a Major Wrench into the Celtics' Future
Boston, MA - The Boston Celtics are in one of their best grooves of the entire season as they are now just three and a half games back of the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division and half a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers after having won four games in a row, including a thirty-two point victory over the Charlotte Hornets, a fourteen point win over the New York Knicks, and a five point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. While they should be feeling good about themselves as they march into the All-Star Weekend, the Celtics are instead in the biggest crisis they've faced since Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving both missed last year's post-season with their respective injuries.
The announcements that Kevin Durant was unhappy and might be looking to leave the Golden State Warriors, that Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, and that the Knicks had traded their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks for peanuts have sent the league into chaos. And at the center of it all have been the Celtics.
When the Celtics signed Hayward over a year ago, they were also considered a finalist in the Durant sweepstakes. Both of these moves were led by Isaiah Thomas as Boston's chief recruiter, but general manager Danny Ainge, of course, eventually flipped Thomas for Irving in a big trade that might now be coming back to bite them.
The Celtics have underperformed when compared to their talent level so far this season and it seems like it is taking a toll on Irving, who once said that he would absolutely re-sign with the Celtics during the 2019 off-season, but is now saying that he owes the team nothing and plans to do whatever he wants.
One of the biggest issues that has come up is that of loyalty, as Davis, who the Celtics were rumored to be trying to trade for after the season because they cannot have two players with max contracts on their team during the season, said he is not interested in going to Boston because they have no loyalty to their players, citing the Thomas trade.
So while rumors swirl that the Knicks cleared Porzingis and cap space so they can create a big three around Durant, Davis, and Irving, the rumors are also in Boston that the lengthy championship window that they had might be rapidly closing right before their eyes. If Irving bails on this team, they're toast. But I have more faith in the role players than those of any other team so don't count the Celtics out yet.
The above image was originally posted to Flickr by EDrost88 at https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/23965056038