Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Rumors: Celtics "worried" Kyrie Irving may leave as free agent in 2019

Kyrie Irving has reportedly spoken about his desire to join the Knicks GETTYKyrie Irving has reportedly spoken about his desire to join the Knicks
Cassandra Castillo | 12 June, 2018, 17:43

With the news about the Celtics possibly courting LeBron James, rumors have arisen of Irving leaving the Celtics to go play for the New York Knicks. I know he had a great year, but you know there are people in Cleveland that will tell you that the Knicks should be considered a real threat for Kyrie Irving. Irving will be unrestricted, and while Shams Charania (and others) reported that Irving was "thrilled" to be headed to Boston when the Celtics dealt for him last August, the Celtics weren't on his initial list of preferred destinations. After all, if the Celtics want to acquire LeBron James, they'd have to shed a max contract (and more).

The Boston Celtics reportedly have concerns about Kyrie Irving's plans for his free agency, which suddenly looms large next season. Obviously, you go to Boston and you become the face of the franchise.

If Irving won't commit to the Celtics, then Boston won't commit to him. Hayward joins a mix of emerging stars (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) along with veterans (Irving, Al Horford).

Giving up any of these three to land the best player in the game is a no-brainer.

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In the playoffs, Terry Rozier played well enough in Irving's absence. Rozier can't be Irving's one-for-one replacement. He is the priciest of the three, commanding 29 percent of the Celtics salary cap this year with a figure of $31.2 million. Throw in a healthy Hayward to a rotation with Kevin Love, who averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds this season while shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range, and you have yourself a solid core that can challenge for 50 wins in the Eastern Conference.

As for the draft, the Celtics have 27th pick and should be able to find a solid bench player at that point.

Is giving up Hayward, Morris and Rozier to land James worth it? After that, he has the option to opt out of his deal and test the waters of free agency for the first time in his career. It's felt like a number of seasons in one.

But, it's awfully tough to send Hayward away in a move like this without getting to see how he gels with the rest of this Celtics team. If James were to sign on with the C's, it's tough to imagine any scenario in which the green doesn't reach the NBA Finals next season and the following campaigns to come.

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