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.
One of the worst things about the Celtics’ premature exit from the playoffs is that we lost out on talking about actual Boston basketball games. Instead, we’ve been stuck in offseason limbo with Kyrie Irving’s free agency and the potential Anthony Davis trade.
Beyond Kyrie’s decision, the big question has been whether to play it safe by keeping and developing the young core, or to go all in by trading much of that core for AD.
Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that now even the Celtics expect Kyrie to leave. Nevertheless, Danny Ainge is still planning to go all in.
According to league sources, the Celtics’ belief that Irving will re-sign with them after free agency opens on June 30 has eroded.
There is still some hope within the organization that Irving will have a change of heart if Boston is able to acquire Davis. And Irving’s fickle personality certainly makes anything possible until he officially agrees to terms with some team.
But the likelihood of an Irving return appears to be decreasing. Nevertheless, the sources said, it is clear that the Celtics’ pursuit of Davis will push forward.
It is widely known that the Celtics have the shiniest collection of assets for a potential Davis deal, but there are questions about how far they would open their treasure chest. One league source said the uncertainty surrounding Davis’s long-term future in Boston has thus far limited the Celtics’ willingness to overwhelm New Orleans with an offer.
Davis’s camp has insisted for months that if Davis is traded to the Celtics, he will play out the final season of his contract and then move on after becoming a free agent. Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron James, doubled down on that notion in an interview in Sports Illustrated this week.
If Irving leaves this summer, and Davis departs one season after Boston surrenders key assets to acquire him, it would set the Celtics back for years.
Danny knows he has his boss’ blessing.
At the very least, it sounds like Grousbeck is intent on Ainge and the Celtics’ front office shooting their shot.
“I don’t have any interest in being mediocre for the next 10 or 15 years,” Grousbeck added. “I’d rather go for it, hit the driver, off the fairway, I occasionally do that. Absolutely that Kyrie trade (with Cleveland in 2017) felt like the right thing to do and was the right thing to do.
“I completely share Danny’s outlook and support it, of looking at options that are aggressive and could lead to a championship. That’s the mindset.”
NBC Sports Boston: Wyc Grousbeck insists Celtics have ‘aggressive’ mindset this offseason
It’s good news that Danny is proceeding with caution about what he offers. If he can pull off the trade without giving away too much, that might win over reluctant fans. (Hahaha, just kidding.)
Many Celtics fans are concerned about a long rebuild if Ainge sends an enormous haul to New Orleans in exchange for Davis, but the Celtics clearly share some of those concerns if they remain hesitant to make a deal based on Davis’ unwillingness to commit. The Toronto Raptors just won the title by taking a similar risk with Kawhi Leonard, but they were on the verge of blowing up their team anyway. The Celtics have a promising young core in place and could set themselves back a decade if they include everything in a trade for Davis, only to have him ditch town in 2020. That fact, it seems, has not been lost on Ainge, and it will likely play a role in the enthusiasm with which he goes after Davis as the draft approaches.
I ran a brief Twitter poll this week that highlighted the division among Celtics fans on whether to play it safe or go all in. The hypothetical said that if the AD trade happened, Boston would win the championship.
Not a huge sample size; still, two-thirds of respondents rightly concluded you do anything for a championship. But one-third either just didn’t like Davis or didn’t want to lose Tatum and were willing to give up winning a title to keep the status quo!
I’ve been in favor of going after The Brow because superstars win championships, and I’m not young enough to wait indefinitely for Banner 18. The threats from Rich Paul briefly gave me pause, but then Kawhi carried Toronto to the trophy, so I’m back on board. And Chad Finn made a persuasive case for going all in.
This much is clear today: If Leonard leaves, there will be no regrets in Toronto about any of this.
And it’s why I’m convinced today that Ainge should trade for Davis, and take a real shot at winning banner No. 18 in a season that could end up being a free-for-all.
I know, it’s going to be costly, and it would be a bummer to see someone like Marcus Smart, who embraces Boston in a way Irving only briefly pretended to, have to go. And any suggestion that the Celtics could do this without giving up Jayson Tatum sounds an awful lot like those green-tinted daydreams 11 years ago that hoped Ainge could acquire Kevin Garnett without parting with Al Jefferson.
Davis may not be wired the same way, and agent Rich Paul’s machinations to get him to LA or New York have been both obvious and damaging. But he’s a superlative player, a seemingly good dude despite some recent miscalculations, and even though the Celtics would have to give up an agonizing amount of resources, it’s worth the shot.
With Davis, and with or without Irving, the Celtics could put a team on the floor that looks an awful lot like the one that claimed the championship Thursday night.
Boston.com: Celtics should go all in for Anthony Davis
It’s a bold plan, with the silver lining being that if Ainge doesn’t get his man, the Cs still have their young core. So, let’s go all in.
On Page 2: Listen to the man
On a recent episode of ESPN’s The Jump, McGrady offered this explanation of why it might be in Irving’s best interest to stay with the Celtics.
“I’m looking at AD in this situation. If I’m Kyrie and I want to be on a championship-contending team or go in and team up with a — who is the best player to do that with that’s the same age? That’s AD. Stay in Boston, have Boston see if they can make that trade for AD. You guys would have an eight-year run together because you’re pretty much the same age. You could dominate the Eastern Conference. It makes perfect basketball sense to me.”
I wish Kyrie would listen to T-Mac and just re-sign with Boston, instead of going to help out Brooklyn or New York. Yes, he’s a pain in the ass, but…
Oh, yeah: He’s really good at basketball.
I’m certainly not here to defend the his rather interesting concept of leadership and how it damaged what was already a tenuous balancing act on a roster with too many agendas.
And I can see, too, how it must have looked from a Celtic fan’s perspective to try to follow his statements from day to day. Hey, I had to listen to that stuff and transcribe it — and attempt to translate it. And I can tell you some of his teammates were left similarly incredulous by a number of his comments.
But the man can play, and anyone says otherwise is letting emotion overrule reason. It takes more than talent to win in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a talent league.
If you don’t have a Herald subscription, the summary of that piece is what we said in the opening item: Superstars win championships; get them, keep them.
And, finally… Let Bill Russell live
I’ll never understand why the NBA named the Finals MVP trophy after Bill Russell, and then every year they have him at the presentation just to make him stand there. He never gets to speak or even hand over the trophy himself. He’s 85 years old and doesn’t move well anymore, so if you’re going to bring him out there, don’t ignore him!
The Rest of the Links:
Boston Sports Journal: What can the Celtics do without Kyrie Irving?