Domino one: fallen. Well, potentially. A little more than three weeks away from NBA free agency one of the few superstars in this year’s class has indicated where he’d like to play next. It’s fair to assume Kyrie Irving probably wants nothing to do with the Celtics young core or Brad Stevens after last season’s utter disaster.
If the Celtics trade a huge bulk of the young core along with a few draft picks for Pelicans star Anthony Davis, that may be the one longshot opportunity you have of keeping him. But unless that happens, Kyrie will move on in all likelihood.
It sounds like his next destination is the Brooklyn Nets. Yes that is correct. The groundwork was laid out quite nicely the other day, getting rid of a despicable $18.5 million per year contract for one Allen Crabbe. They gave up a couple future 1st rounders but got another solid role player in return in Taurean Prince.
They now team Prince up with Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Caris Levert, and Joe Harris. That list sounds like a great G League story first time hearing it, but all players have filled out to quietly create a solid young core in the pros. This young core helped the Nets become one of the most pleasant surprises in the association this year. They were one of the most overachieving squads, shocking everyone by making the playoffs and taking Philadelphia to six games in the first round.
With the young guys in place on cheap contracts, everything is setting up quite nicely for the Nets who now have two max slots open. Notice I didn’t mention first time all star this year D’Angelo Russell in that young core list. Given Kyrie and Russell’s style of play and attitude, I’d foresee these two being at each other’s throats as teammates when push comes to shove. If you’re Brooklyn, I believe you’d let Russell walk if you sign Irving.
ESPN story on Brooklyn's daring trade of two first-round picks to clear double max-salary slots for free agency. Kyrie Irving is absolutely serious about the Nets, per sources. Free agency is on. https://t.co/ekY0NVhzN0
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 6, 2019
Now in Boston this past year, Irving proved he can be volatile and have poor judgement as a teammate. If Kyrie can’t get any other marquee free agent to join him in Brooklyn, you must resign D’Angelo Russell and trust that tandem to lead you if you’re Brooklyn.
It’d be a fun dynamic to watch every night, as they would stir some interest. The Nets have proven to be the lone stable franchise in New York. They have a bright young coach in Kenny Atkinston, the promising young core I mentioned, and a grand spectacle to put it all to play in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Having said that, they’d ultimately get bounced in the second round of the eastern conference playoffs. Would Kevin Durant be willing to join Kyrie in Brooklyn and vault them up to championship contention? I really don’t see it, but who knows. After that for the Nets I wouldn’t even waste your time getting rejected by the other two great free agent prizes Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson. That ain’t happening. I also think Jimmy Butler should absolutely stay in Philadelphia. But, that’s the next guy I would target. If you strike out on him too, you’re looking at trying to acquire Tobias Harris or sticking with Russell.
I understand the man did try to hide weed in an Arizona can through security. The guy actually tried to hide contraband in a different kind of contraband before boarding a plane. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was an all star for a reason. He’s not nearly as great of a pairing with Irving as some of the guys I just mentioned, but he brings a lot of play making for himself and others.
As far as the Celtics go, with no Irving I believe the Celtics will be stuck in the same spot. They’ll have a solid team with a good young core that can’t quite ascend to legitimate championship contention. The only glaring difference between the two is the Celtics would no longer have Irving’s antics and clear lack of ability to handle the media hanging over their heads.
With Irving out of the picture, the Celtics couldn’t run the massive risk of trading for Anthony Davis. If things don’t pan out like they didn’t for Kyrie, “AD” could leave as a free agent after next year. All of the sudden the Celtics would be left without their young buildings blocks who you’d have to deal to acquire Davis as well as the two superstars.
If Kyrie does walk out the door the young guys will be depended upon heavily moving forward. Boston’s young pieces have a bright future but have plenty of growing up to do. They are still kids after all. Weather Terry Rozier can lead the team at the game’s most important position after he publicly slandered the team’s entire approach this season is in question.
In an eastern conference that’s getting better and better, and may retain Kawhi Leonard up north, it may be a little while before the Celtics are seriously contending again. The direction they go for leadership and franchise face will be the biggest question mark after Kyrie departs in all likelihood.