A difficult regular season hasn’t affected the Celtics‘ commitment to Kyrie Irving, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Irving promised Boston fans in October that he would re-sign with the the team, but his resolve seemed to waiver as losses piled up during the season. He also made a series of public comments about how difficult it is to be a veteran leader on a young team.
Despite the ups and downs of the season, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the organization hasn’t given any thought to letting Irving leave and turning the offense over to Terry Rozier. Ainge also believes the postseason will give Irving a fresh start.
“I don’t think free agency is wearing on him,” Ainge said. “I think that not being able to live up to expectations as a team is wearing on him more than that. But I feel like he’s in a good place. And ending the season and starting the playoffs I feel like his mind is in a fresher place than it was a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to great things with Kyrie.”
Beyond his talents, another motivation for the Celtics to keep Irving is his friendship with the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. Boston is hoping to trade for Davis this summer and would have a better chance of signing him to a long-term deal if Irving is still around.
There’s more Celtics news this morning:
- Gordon Hayward finished strong after a trying season that saw him struggle to rebuild his game in the wake of last year’s severe ankle injury, notes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Over the last seven games, Hayward has averaged 16.9 PPG while shooting 62% from the field. Teammates and management have been impressed by the way he has handled the challenges. “From the first day of training camp, he’s played the right way,” Ainge said. “Through all of his adversity, he has, and I mean, that’s leadership. That’s great leadership showing, and people notice that. It doesn’t do that much good to talk about it, but Gordon, by his example, has shown great leadership.”
- Celtics fans shouldn’t expect to see Marcus Smart for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Smart is projected to miss 4 to 6 weeks with a torn left oblique, but coach Brad Stevens calls that timeline “aggressive,” based on what he has heard from team doctors.
- With six players either headed toward free agency or having the ability to opt out of their contracts, the Celtics know this could be their last shot at a title with their current roster, observes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
Published at Sun, 14 Apr 2019 15:18:08 +0000