The Boston Celtics currently have one of the most talented rosters in the league. The return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward undeniably makes the Celtics a more dangerous team, and as of now, they are the favorite NBA team to become the new ruler of the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Before the 2018-19 NBA season officially starts, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens will need to figure out who will be in the starting lineup and who will be demoted to the bench.
Brad Stevens is aware of the good problem he’s about to face, but it will be a matter of time before he and the Celtics’ organization make a tough decision. When the 2019 NBA free agency begins next July, two of the Celtics point guards will be hitting the open market. Kyrie Irving could exercise his player option to become an unrestricted free agent, while Terry Rozier is set to become a restricted free agent if the Celtics will not offer him a contract extension before the October deadline.
Though rumors continue to circulate that Kyrie Irving will be leaving the Celtics to team up with Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Jimmy Butler, the team’s No. 1 priority next offseason is still to convince him to stay long-term in Boston. According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the Celtics shouldn’t think of letting Irving go. Instead, they should find a new home for Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier.
“Letting Irving walk still shouldn’t be part of the Celtics’ calculus. He doesn’t turn 27 until March. Hayward and Horford are more suitable forms of collateral damage when looking at the timelines for Brown and Tatum. If nothing else, Boston should re-sign Irving, part ways with Rozier or Smart and figure out the rest later. It might not be that simple. Irving could get wandering eyes. He could fall off following knee surgery. He could struggle to find his offensive equilibrium as Boston integrates Hayward and props up Brown and Tatum.”
The Celtics won’t have a hard time finding a trade partner for Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Both point guards can be reliable contributors as starters or members of the second unit. Though Smart played a major role in the Celtics’ success in the past years, keeping Rozier makes more sense for the Celtics. When Irving went down with a season-ending injury, Rozier showed his capability to become a starter in the league. If Irving fails to remain healthy or struggles to build chemistry with Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics could rely on Terry Rozier to do the job.
As of now, it remains a mystery what the Celtics plan to do with the logjam at their backcourt. Expect more rumors to circulate around Boston between now and the February NBA trade deadline.