Will Kyrie be a Celtic next season?
Kyrie Irving has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons throughout the last four years, whether it’s hitting the game winner in a game seven, requesting a trade away from Lebron in Cleveland or claiming that the world is flat. Recently, however, when asked about his impending free agency, his response to the reporter was “Ask me July 1.”
Back in October, Kyrie said that he plans on re-signing. Now it seems he doesn’t want to give a promise of whether he will re-sign or not, so will he be back with the Celtics next season?
Kyrie is a prolific offensive player, with the ability to score 40 points any time he touches the court. He has arguably the greatest handles in NBA history. However, his tendency to isolate and over dribble can cause an offense to be stagnant at times. This inability has led to criticism that he is a ball-stopper and he doesn’t make his teammates better.
The Celtics play different when Kyrie doesn’t play, as shown from their playoff run last year. The ball moves more when the players run Brad Stevens' system rather than letting Kyrie dribble all over the court. The key contributors’ statistics from last year are the best evidence, showing that Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford stats have all went down.
While the Celtics went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and are 9-2 without Kyrie this season, the series against Cleveland exposed the lack of elite shot creators on the team; That’s the biggest problem for Boston when Kyrie doesn’t play, while Tatum is a good offensive player, he’s no Kyrie Irving.
With Gordon Hayward still trying to find his way back from the injury that put him out for just about the whole 2017-18 season, they need a shot creator when they play the elite teams. In the regular season they can get by having no Kyrie Irving. However, when the game slows down during playoff basketball, they’ll need a player like Kyrie who can beat locked in, half court defenses.
When Kyrie originally requested the trade from Cleveland, the biggest reason he wanted to leave was to have his own team. One fact that people might overlook is that Kyrie didn’t originally request to get traded to the Celtics. Seeing how Boston has started to embrace Tatum since his playoff run, Kyrie might believe that the team is no longer his own.
One huge advantage that Boston has, outside of being able to build a winning team around him, is that he can make more money signing with them than if he signed with another team. That’s something that he’s spoken about when asked why he didn’t sign an extension last year.
If Kyrie re-signs with the Celtics, he can sign a five-year, $188 million contract. If he leaves the Celtics, the most he could get would be four-years, $139 million. That’s an extra year and $49 million he would be missing out on by signing somewhere else. With his injury history and having had surgery two times on his knee, extra financial security could be enough to sway him.
One huge disadvantage for Boston, however, is that they have performed well without Kyrie on the court. As a result, if the Celtics don’t make it to the finals this season, that might cause people to question how big of a difference maker Kyrie Irving really is.
This year the Celtics will be facing much better competition. Toronto (trading for Kawhi), the Bucks (acquiring Mike Budenholzer) and the Sixers (more experience, and trading for Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler), have all improved tremendously from last postseason. Fans will disregard that, seeing the results, and jump to the conclusion that Kyrie isn’t good enough to bring them a championship.
Recently, Irving called up Lebron James and apologized to him after realizing how difficult it was to be a leader. This has led to speculation that Kyrie might go to Los Angeles this offseason and reunite with Lebron. If that were to happen, Boston will have lost its best player to their biggest rivals. There’s also been speculation that Kyrie might go to New York. With these rumors, as well as Kyrie’s refusal to answer whether he will re-sign or not, has many believing that he’s leaving this offseason.
If Kyrie leaves the Boston Celtics this summer, that might kill their chances of getting a player like Anthony Davis to sign long-term with them. Reports have come out saying that one of the reasons Davis doesn’t prefer Boston is because he isn’t sure if Kyrie will be there. While Boston has a good team, Davis probably doesn’t want to play on a team without another all-star in today’s game.
The Celtics couldn’t trade for Davis before the trade deadline because a team can only have one player on their team who has a designated rookie extension. Kyrie in a sense, holds the power to dictate if the Celtics are a contender going forward, because if Kyrie doesn’t resign and they still trade for Anthony Davis, they will have had to give up assets to acquire him. If Davis doesn’t resign next year as well, the Celtics would’ve gotten rid of their team for a one-year rental.
Kyrie is one of, if not the best, closer in the game today. For Boston to have a real chance of even making it to the finals and bringing home a championship, they’re going to need him on their team. Danny Ainge, general manager of the Boston Celtics, says that it’s ridiculous to think Boston is better without Irving, and they will try everything to re-sign him. The question that remains, however, is if Kyrie even wants to resign with Boston on July 1.
Zachary Smith is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.