Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
He wanted to grow, lead and develop his game around a bunch of other players who were developing at the same time.
Now he’s gotten his wish with the Celtics.
And he’s about to find out how truly difficult that task can be.
It’s when it comes down to the wire where it will now fall on Irving most. He will be the one everyone on the team, and in the arena, is looking at to either make the shot, or make the play that gets someone else the shot.
He will have to be both the emotional stability, and chief conveyor of urgency, on each and every possession.
He said at his introductory press conference he never knew of a team where one person put it all on his shoulders. But the brunt of the hopes for this squad this season now rest with him.
Providence Journal – With Hayward out, Irving’s leadership gets an early test
In the preseason, the question occasionally arose as to who would take the last shot with the game on the line, Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward? At the time, it was a good problem to have.
Thanks to harsh reality, the answer is suddenly no longer in doubt. By default, Kyrie is now The Man. He wanted that status, and now we have to hope it doesn’t become a case of “be careful what you wish for.”
The Celtics were still figuring things out after the short preseason when Gordon’s projected 35 minutes and 21 points per game disappeared. Now they have to practically reinvent themselves.
If they struggle during the next couple of weeks, expect the hot takers to remind us that Kyrie never won anything in his three seasons before LeBron returned to Cleveland. They’ll omit the fact that Kyrie was drafted by a team that had gone 19-63, and that in his rookie year his coach was Byron Scott and his best teammate was an over-the-hill Antawn Jamison. That was not a winning formula, and it didn’t improve in seasons two and three.
It’s obviously a different situation now. If we’re being realistic, the Celtics are no longer an NBA Finals contender. However, even without Hayward, they should still be a top-tier team. Once Mook Morris is healthy, they’ll be comparable to last season’s roster in terms of talent and expectations. To match what the team accomplished last season, Kyrie will need to to perform like Isaiah Thomas did.
Kyrie is completely capable of handling this burden. How well he does it will likely be the single biggest factor in how this season plays out for the Cs.
On Page 2: Hayward’s surgery deemed successful
Hayward underwent surgery at New England Baptist Hospital Wednesday night, as the Celtics were playing their home opener against the Bucks. He was treated by a team led by the Celtics’ surgeon, Dr. Brian McKeon.
Bartelstein said he spoke to Hayward before and after the procedure, and that his spirits remained high.
“He’s doing OK,” Bartelstein said. “He’s glad to have it behind him, and now he’s more focused on going forward.
“It obviously still shocks your world to go through something like that, but he’s a really strong kid and is going to put his mind in the right place. Right now we’ve just got to get through the pain from the surgery, which we’re working on.”
“I think the one thing that comes out from something like this is you see how much people care about you.
“I think it means the world to him, and I think he’s really been inspired by just the way people in Boston and around the world have reached out to him. It’s been great. The reaction at the arena last night meant the world to him.”
It’s excellent news that Hayward is on the road to recovery. It’s a relief that the surgery was completed with no complications. He probably won’t be back this year, but when he does step on the court again he shouldn’t be diminished in any way.
Let’s also note the agent’s comments about Celtics fans. In the past 16 months, Boston has become an extremely desirable free-agent destination (see “And finally”). Every player has said the crowd at the Garden is a factor in helping them decide to come here. That’s a great reputation to have. Shoutout to the opening night fans for living up to it.
Related: Herald – After ‘successful’ surgery, Gordon Hayward’s season likely over | Bulpett: Danny Ainge won’t rule out but not counting on Gordon Hayward return | Boston.com – Gordon Hayward’s wife shares she hasn’t slept for 41 hours | Read the Celtics’ update on Gordon Hayward’s injury | What could have been will hover over this entire Celtics season | NBA.com – Gordon Hayward’s agent: Surgery on ankle ‘went really well’ | Globe – TNT covered Gordon Hayward’s injury with utmost professionalism
And, finally: The old Boston free-agency narrative is really, really dead
During a recent ESPN documentary, Chris Paul revealed the Boston Celtics were among the teams that intrigued him this past summer while he considered his options in free agency.
Paul ended up opting into the final season of his contract so the Los Angeles Clippers could trade him to the Houston Rockets. But before that, he said he also held interest in the Spurs, Celtics and Clippers.
Regardless, nobody can doubt the Celtics as a free-agent destination these days. Punt that old narrative to the moon. They signed Al Horford, inked Gordon Hayward, and captured the attention of Paul even though he recognized the situation wasn’t perfect for him. Players appreciate what Danny Ainge is building.
Other than Durant and Curry, who weren’t even close to leaving Golden State, the top free agents of the past summer were Paul and Hayward. And the biggest trade target was Irving. Boston was on the radar for all of them. Amazing.
The Celtics were once like the high school kid who couldn’t get a date. Now they’re the kings of the prom.
The Rest of the Links:
CBS Boston – Celtics Not Panicking Over Slow Start