As they continue to struggle in the 2018-19 NBA season, rumors and speculations are heating up that Kyrie Irving will be leaving the Boston Celtics once he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. After committing to re-sign with the Celtics before the start of the season, Irving recently had a change of heart and said that he wanted to keep his options open in free agency.
The departure of Kyrie Irving will deeply hurt the Celtics as well as their chances of returning to title contention. Also, it is expected to have a huge effect with their plan in the 2019 NBA offseason. According to Dan Devine of The Ringer, Celtics President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge “would decide against” going all-in to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans if they fail to re-sign Irving next summer.
“If Irving were to leave Boston, perhaps Danny Ainge would decide against putting his best offer for Anthony Davis on the table after all, prompting the Pelicans to revisit that ‘all the Young Lakers’ proposal … and, at long last, giving the Lakers the one-two punch Magic Johnson has been promising,” Devine wrote. “That would require the Celtics to rebuild on the fly; it’d be fascinating to see which players Ainge would prioritize as cornerstones as he sketches a new blueprint.”
As the Lakers continue to fall apart, is Anthony Davis really sure he wants to join LeBron James in L.A.? https://t.co/kp2Ptd6xzT
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) March 5, 2019
After the Lakers failed to convince the Pelicans to make a deal before the February NBA trade deadline, the Celtics immediately emerged as the top favorite to land Anthony Davis in the summer of 2019. The Celtics are believed to be the team that can offer the best trade package to the Pelicans. When it comes to trade assets, the Celtics undeniably have a better combination of young players (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier) and future draft picks than the Lakers.
However, emptying their treasure chests to acquire Anthony Davis won’t make much sense if they no longer have Kyrie Irving on their roster. Without Irving, there is a strong chance that Davis will only be a one-year rental. The All-Star center has a player option on his contract that will enable him to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2020 NBA offseason.
Losing Kyrie Irving in free agency won’t mean that the Celtics will need to start all over again. When Irving and Gordon Hayward suffered injuries last season, the Celtics proved that they were capable of fully dominating the Eastern Conference. If Irving leaves, the Celtics could use their salary cap space to bring Terry Rozier back and see what their young core could do in the 2019-20 NBA season.