Kyrie Irving seemed adamant on re-signing with the Boston Celtics in the offseason. After recent comments and team struggles, that decision now seems uncertain. Here are three reasons why Kyrie will not be on the Boston Celtics next season.
Three reasons why Kyrie Irving will not be with the Boston Celtics next year
The acquisition of Kyrie Irving seemed like the missing piece in the Boston Celtics’ rebuilding phase. Combined with the newly signed Gordon Hayward in the summer of 2017, Boston seemed like a contender out East. The rise of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum gave the Celtics the expectation to be a juggernaut.
Instead, the Celtics are 38-25, good for fifth place in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics would meet in the first round. Expectations were that these two could see each other in the Conference Finals instead.
The Celtics have been unable to find a reliable formula to build chemistry, and Kyrie’s recent comments have cast doubt on the franchises’ future. Kyrie Irving stated earlier that he would like to re-sign, now that decision does not seem so certain.
Here are three reasons why Kyrie Irving will not be wearing a Celtics jersey next season.
The rise of Jayson Tatum
Kyrie Irving wants to be the leader of his own team. He wanted to leave the shadow of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. After being traded to the Boston Celtics, he likely saw this as an opportunity to achieve that goal. Despite Hayward’s addition, Kyrie was the alpha in Boston.
Injuries forced Kyrie’s 2017 season short, and he could not have foreseen what was to come: the rise of Jayson Tatum. The Celtics went deep into the playoffs, going as far as Game 7 of the ECF largely on the play of their young core. In this, Tatum solidified himself as a future star and more importantly: just as big of a name as Kyrie Irving (in terms of value to the Celtics).
Tatum’s shadow does not loom as large as LeBron’s, but this could be a reason why Kyrie would want to play elsewhere. There is no argument that the two could be a force for years to come, but it is ultimately up to what Irving wants for himself. Is he a bit bothered by a younger player’s fast rise?
The Big Apple
Flashback to the summer of 2017 and Kyrie Irving’s list of preferred destinations to be traded to from Cleveland. Per a report from Chris Haynes at the time, the list included: San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the New York Knicks.
The New York Knicks maneuvered at the trade deadline to create cap space for two max players this offseason. New York clearly believes they have a legitimate shot at two marquee names, most likely Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie originally wanted to play in New York, and now it could be a real possibility. Add onto the fact that he has the opportunity to play with Kevin Durant, a close friend of his? In a league encompassed by player control, the Big Apple could be too enticing for Kyrie to pass on.
Redeemed or storied franchise?
Kyrie Irving is the type of player that likes to focus on “legacy.” He hit the big shot in crunch time to deliver Cleveland its first NBA title, but many (understandably) give much praise to LeBron James. Irving’s contributions to the Cavaliers’ title run can sometimes be overlooked.
The Boston Celtics are among the most storied franchises not just in the NBA but in sports in general. If Kyrie added another title to the city, how would it be valued in comparison to the title he won in Cleveland? Kyrie seems to be the type of player who enjoys accomplishing something new, on his own terms.
In his eyes, he could find that opportunity in New York. The Knicks have long been a chaotic and underachieving franchise. But if Kyrie could lead them to relevance, better yet a championship, does that change how we view Irving’s place among the NBA greats? Do we remember him more so for that accomplishment, in contrast to being the “sidekick” to LeBron James in their 2016 championship victory?
Kyrie Irving is the only one who understands the goals and admirations that will define his free agency decision. Re-signing with Boston once seemed certain, but now the end of the season and the playoffs will decide whether we’ve seen the last of Kyrie in a Celtics jersey.
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