Ten days or so before the NBA season is set to begin, Kyrie Irving took matters into his own hands. He told the flat earth he planed to re-sign with the Celtics next summer if he opts-out and becomes an unrestricted free agent. On cue, Celtic fans were relieved and overjoyed. No Kevin Durant like offseason on pins and needles. No waiting. No Kevin Durant fake out. He loves us. No, he doesn’t. He loves us. He won’t betray us.
Rumors continue that Kyrie has pitched Anthony Davis on Boston. Davis seemingly wants out of New Orleans. He changed representation and signed with Rich Paul and may force a trade in the summer. So why not Boston? Why not a Kyrie tag team?
Because Kyrie may not be in Boston. This is October. No one knows what June is going to look like, particularly Kyrie. And the money doesn’t work to add Davis. At all. Al Horford has a $30 million player option he will exercise. It will be the last of the Horford big, big pay days. The Celtics will be over the cap and it depends on how much they want to pay in luxury tax. Sure, the Celtics can trade Horford to the Pelicans for Davis but the Hornets don’t want Horford or that ridiculous almost LeBron salary of Horford’s.
I see Kyrie working. He wants to defuse the speculation about his future so it is not a distraction. Kevin Durant did the same thing. But when the summer comes, it’s a different ball game. There is something about being an unrestricted free agent that makes NBA players giddy. They want to do to the team tours, they want to be adored and red carpeted, they want to be forced to make a decision while everyday they are on SportsCenter.
Of course exceptions are exceptions. Paul George nipped all of that drama in the bud. But Paul George is a small time guy. He is Tim Duncan-esque. The reason Kyrie and ‘Bron didn’t work was because Kyrie was fatigued being in ‘Bron’s shadow and never getting credit for anything and getting blamed for everything. Kyrie likes the big stage. And the Knicks are out there waiting.
Just as he can try to sway Anthony Davis to Boston, Kyrie can also sway him to New York. The bottom line is you can’t believe what players say in October. In October of 2007 Kobe Bryant wanted out of Los Angeles. In June of 2008, he was in the NBA Finals.
The question the Celtics have to ask and answer is do they want Kyrie? For what he is asking, is he worth it?
He’s only been All-NBA once. His defense is average. He never plays a full season and finds a way to get injured at the worst time. The Celtics are a stacked team whose best talent is on the bench, not on the court. Brad Stevens can coach anyone. That makes individual players necessary but not mandatory.
I know Kyrie has told the front office. I know he has told his teammates. I know he is happy. I know he has closed his LeBron chapter shut. But I know NBA players change their minds. I know they can be talked out of what they think they have talked themselves into. I know they want what they want but it can change quickly.
Kyrie has a player option for next year that he may exercise, pushing his unrestricted free agency to 2020. Financially, it would be a head scratcher but Chris Paul did the same thing, opted-in instead of taking the money, waited one year longer. The Celtics might ask Irving to wait to see if they can leverage a Davis trade with the Pelicans.
And then, we are here all over again.