After being eliminated from the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics will quickly be adjusting their focus to the upcoming offseason. With seven players that aren’t locked in for next season, this summer will require the Celtics to keep their nose to the grindstone in order to keep their roster ready to compete at the start of next season.
At the heart of Boston’s uncertainty moving forward is superstar Kyrie Irving. This is no surprise, as his pending free agency has been extensively covered and discussed since the beginning of the 2018-19 season. The evolution of Irving’s opinion on the matter have given Celtics fans a reason to be concerned, having shifted from an expressed desire to stay in Beantown to making sure the media knows that he doesn’t owe anything to anyone.
Kyrie Irving’s future with the Boston Celtics feels like a coin toss at this point. One of the more unique personalities in the league, it is hard to predict what decision Irving will make when July rolls around. However, if Uncle Drew decides to leave Boston as a free agent this summer, here are three big reasons that could impact that choice.
One of the biggest reasons Kyrie Irving left the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to the 2017-18 season was a hunger to have his own team and to be a leader. That hasn’t quite worked out for him in Boston. After a fairly warm welcome in the start of his time as a Celtic, injury left Irving sidelined down the stretch of the regular season and into the 2018 NBA playoffs. A run that would take the team to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals left a young Celtics core feeling that they didn’t need the leadership Irving was so eager to bring to the table.
This season, Boston never felt on the same page or free of chemistry concerns for more than a few weeks at a time. Just when things seemed to be going well, something would leak from the locker room or a losing streak would ensue. It is obvious that Kyrie Irving and the other Celtics players don’t get along, or at least see eye to eye on the court.
Play with another star
The Boston Celtics have plenty of talent. From savy, swiss army knife veterans like Al Horford to young studs like Jayson Tatum, there isn’t much this roster lacks. Well, except for another star player.
Two seasons being the go-to guy for the Celtics may have adjusted Kyrie’s perception on playing alongside another superstar caliber player. Moving out of LeBron James’ shadow may have been a catalyst to his move to Boston, but desire to team up with another top player in the league could be a contributing factor to him leaving. That could mean a reunion with LeBron on the west coast or pairing with another player, like Kevin Durant or Jimmy Butler elsewhere.
Play in a market of his choosing
When Kyrie Irving offered his request to be traded to the Cavs front office in the summer of 2017, he was lucky to have landed in Boston. Kobe Altman could have easily sent Irving to the Phoenix Suns out of spite and let him mire in disfunction until his contract expired. Just because he wound up traded to a team that allowed him to compete for a title doesn’t mean that’s where he would like to play long-term.
It is important to remember that Irving had a four-team list of preferred destinations to go along with his trade request. While three of the four teams on that list won’t likely be in position to offer him a max contract this offseason, the New York Knicks most certainly are.
The Boston Celtics may be a historic NBA franchise, but the biggest markets in the league, namely the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers, will all be in contention for Irving’s services. If Kyrie places heavy priority on building his own brand and marketability when making his decision this summer, these markets would have an obvious leg up on the competition.