Kyrie Irving, His Commitment to Boston, and what that means for another Superstar
During fanfest for the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving finally gave the basketball world the clarity it had been seeking regarding his future with the franchise. Rumors had been swirling for nearly his entire tenure in Boston that he was going to leave the team for greener pastures once his contract was up. Many speculated that he would team up with Jimmy Butler in a place like Miami, Brooklyn, or New York, and others thought that the emergence of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum would make Kyrie want to find a place where his alpha-doggedness would be more clear-cut.
Kyrie Irving made it clear on Thursday that he wants to be a part of Boston Celtics on a more long-term basis, and announced that in front of many excited fans.
It now appears that the dream of having Kyrie Irving pair with another top-tier star on a playoff-deprived team is dead, or at least will have to be put on hold. Let’s be honest though, was that ever anything more than a pipe-dream? People have attached every major free agent and trade candidate to the New York Knicks for as long as I can remember, and way more often than not, nothing happens.
We already knew that the Boston Celtics would be a top-tier NBA team this year, and they are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward are all established in the NBA and are all-stars, Marcus Smart is the do-it-all glue guy that every great team has to have, while Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier are all young potential stars in this league. This team is not only built to win now, but built to win for a long time.
The thing about Kyrie Irving commiting to stay in Boston long-term though, is that in order to keep him, you have to sign him to a super-max extension. Obviously the Celtics can do that because they have Kyrie’s Bird rights, but when you do that you have to look down the line at what that means in the long-term, salary cap wise.
The NBA has a soft-cap, which means that teams can go above the cap but will be hit with the luxury tax for doing so, and that tax grows every consecutive year that you are over the cap. Terry Rozier is a free agent after this season, but you have Kyrie Irving, so losing him is not that big a deal, especially if his development stalls. The Boston Celtics will have to make a lot of key decisions with each year regarding their talented players.
Jaylen Brown’s contract expires following the 2019-20 season, and he will need to be paid a lot if he continues his Paul George-esque development.
Al Horford’s contract also expires following the 2019-20 season, so you could potentially have to get him to take less money or risk losing him because the market dictates you need to pay Jaylen Brown much more money.
The 2020-21 season is the last that Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum are under contract, and you may be forced to choose between which one you keep (I would personally pick Jayson Tatum because he appears to be a budding superstar in).
The point is, by the 2021-22 season the Boston Celtics could be deep into the repeater tax, and they might not be able to/want to keep all these young pieces to potentially (if all goes according to their plan) continue their dynastic run. This, of course, could all end up being a moot point because big-market teams continue to show that they are more than willing to spend whatever money is necessary to win titles, just look at the Golden State Warriors.
Of course the Warriors are also moving to a brand new, privately-built arena that will allow them to essentially print money, and their TV deal is also expiring soon, but that is besides the point.
The important thing about Kyrie Irving commiting to re-sign with the Celtics is that it illuminates a path to acquiring one of the best players in the NBA within the next year.
That player is Anthony Davis, and apparently sources are saying that Irving has already reached out to the Brow about teaming up in Boston. All the potential contract complications listed above could be nullified by trading away pieces to land the superstar.
There are already several streams of thought surrounding Davis right now. The first is that he is no longer content with being the lone superstar on a middle of the pack team in New Orleans, which is understandable given the way the power dynamics of the NBA have shifted in the last decade. One of the other thoughts about the superstar is that he is going to eventually wind up teaming up with one of three teams: the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, or the Golden State Warriors.
The common belief regarding the end of his tenure in New Orleans is that this season will be his last, and he will end up being traded next offseason. Teams are acutely aware of this, and have planned accordingly. The Los Angeles Lakers have two max contract spots open for next year to try and lure a superstar, and Davis just signed with LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
The Golden State Warriors have aging pieces who aren’t on guaranteed deals next season (Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston), have young pieces they could flip, they will be printing money, and Davis is reportedly the one player (not already on the roster) that ownership covets the most. Oh, and there is also the dreaded Stephen Curry hug which has spelled doom for several opposing fanbases…
The Boston Celtics though, that is a whole different beast in this scenario. They have the ability to make the most fair trade of any team. They could decide to move on from Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, or even Jaylen Brown. They have young players, and all-stars who could be flipped because they have expiring deals. Oh, and they also stockpile draft picks like the United States and Soviet Union did from 1960-1990.
While Kyrie Irving commiting to stay in Boston, that opens the door for another super team that could be even more powerful than many expect the Boston Celtics to be this year. While the Celtics will have issues with the Salary Cap, Danny Ainge has a ruthless streak and has shown that he will do whatever it takes to make his team better.
Will Kyrie Irving’s commitment to re-sign open the door for the Celtics to acquire Anthony Davis? Only time will tell. Will his commitment allow for the team to continue to develop it’s young core to become perennial Eastern Conference favorites? It should, but again, only time will tell.
Regardless of what dominoes fall after Kyrie’s commitment, it undoubtedly adds another layer of intrigue for the upcoming season, and that’s all a fan can really ask for.