Monday, 25 June, 2018

Boston Celtics: Where the franchise stands heading into the 2018 offseason

Kyrie Irving will become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 GETTYKyrie Irving will become an unrestricted free agent in 2019
Sidney Guerrero | 12 June, 2018, 17:41

Irving was searching for a home and it seemed like he found it in Boston.

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on December 13, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Still, the idea was spread through the dirty-water city (through sports radio waves): Irving may not be the long-term star in Boston.

"You know things can change". Throw in a healthy Hayward to a rotation with Kevin Love, who averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds this season while shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range, and you have yourself a solid core that can challenge for 50 wins in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics are understandably excited about their progress this season as well, and even more excited about what this team could look like with Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the fold.

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To add fuel to the fire, Irving was absent from the Celtics' sideline for much of the playoffs, including the eastern finals. The health concerns complicate whether he can be "the guy" for Boston - or any franchise. He didn't like the fact that he was the second option on the team behind LeBron James, and felt like he was undervalued by the Cavaliers coaching staff and management.

There have been reports that Irving could leave the Celtics in 2019 free agency. He will rightfully string the Celtics along.

Irving and the Celtics will be at the center of most trade rumors. The Celtics are long shots to sign James, but Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports the C's could be anxious about the impact even talking to James would have on Irving, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. The list of trade targets goes on, but Irving is often the corresponding piece. The luxury tax threshold is expected to be $123 million, meaning there's no chance of Boston going out and signing James in free agency without being charged with the harsh penalties associated with this line. I don't see an option for him that is ideal, but I don't see an option that doesn't have a significant compromise for him.

"I think that's the exciting part about all this is that when you're shaping up to gear up to be a championship-caliber team for years to come - which I think Danny (Ainge) has echoed for a little bit".

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