As we inch closer and closer to the start of free agency at the end of June, the level of uncertainty of Kyrie Irving re-signing with the Boston Celtics continues to increase. Since the end of the season, we’ve heard rumors and reports of where Kyrie Irving can sign this offseason. We’ve heard rumors of Kyrie being interested in joining the Nets, Knicks, and Lakers, but none of him returning to Boston. If the rumors have any truth to them, and Kyrie Irving does, in fact, leave the Celtics this summer, what’s next for Boston?
Let me bring you back a few years ago, 2013 to be exact. The Boston Celtics pulled off one of the greatest heists in NBA history, where they traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for three first-round picks and players that didn’t last in Boston. Two of those three first-round picks turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and the other turned out to be Collin Sexton. The Celtics came away with two players who each have the potential to become superstar-caliber players.
If Kyrie Irving decides to sign somewhere else this offseason (which I hope he doesn’t), Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics need to build around both Jaylen and Jayson. With Kyrie gone, it will open the door for both Jaylen and Jayson to truly showcase their talents and be the top options for the Celtics. I’d say they would be the leaders of the team, but I believe that title belongs to Marcus Smart. The point is both Jaylen and Jayson will not have to take a backseat to Kyrie any longer.
So yes, this means that if Kyrie Irving is gone, the Celtics need to stop exploring Anthony Davis trade packages and build around their young guys. The point of acquiring Anthony Davis in a trade would be to pair him with Kyrie Irving. But if Kyrie isn’t around, there’s no point in trading away our future for a player who may not re-sign.
Kyrie leaving also opens the door for Terry Rozier to return as the team’s starting point guard moving forward. I know he said some things about Boston after the season was over and didn’t have a good season whatsoever, but he has proven himself as a viable starting point guard who has experience in the postseason.
Kyrie was the one player who was holding back guys like Jaylen, Jayson, and Terry. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that Kyrie’s style of play didn’t fit the style everybody else was used to playing. The Celtics work better with a “team-ball” style of play where everybody touches the ball and the ball stays moving. Everybody gets there’s, and players like Jaylen and Jayson can lead the charge.
Kyrie leaving Boston may be the best thing that can happen for guys like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier (if he re-signs). Kyrie’s style of play was taking opportunities away from the young guys. Kyrie Irving is a very ball dominant player but has shown that he can be a team leader and get others involved.
Without Kyrie, I believe Jaylen and Jayson can thrive in their roles of being top options on the team and can finally fulfill their potential. Jayson Tatum has borderline-superstar potential, while I believe Jaylen Brown has All-Star potential. We’ve seen how well those two play together when they’re taking charge, and when they’re on, they seem unstoppable together.
And not for nothing, Kyrie Irving leaving may also help Gordon Hayward get back to becoming the All-Star talent he once was. With an entire offseason to help focus on his recovery and Kyrie not returning to the team, it could open the door for Gordon Hayward to become the player Celtics’ fans expected him to be when Boston signed him a few summers ago.
In this Kyrie Irving-less scenario for Boston, I envision both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum averaging over 20 points per game next season. With no restrictions and no player standing in their way of taking over games, both players can finally take the NBA by storm and become one of the best young duos in the entire league.
Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports