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.
Praise for the newest members of the Boston Celtics family or shade thrown the way of (likely ex-Celtic) Kyrie Irving?
With Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, you never really know which bucket his most recent comments fall in.
“I think it just makes life more enjoyable when everybody is humble, hard-working and will play any role they have to to help the team succeed, ” Ainge said. “You do have to have a certain amount of talent to win as we all know, but good people makes coming to work more fun.”
Everybody and their brother took Ainge’s comments yesterday and assumed that they were a veiled comment about Kyrie Irving.
Guys (and gals):
Terry Rozier spent the ENTIRE SEASON sulking and refusing to play the role he was assigned. And then, scarcely a week after the season ended, he was on ESPN trashing the Celtics’ coaching staff.
Irving, who, lest we forget, made second-team All-NBA, did what was expected of him, and had an incredibly efficient season. If he flamed out in the second round of the playoffs, well, again, it took an entire team to lose to the Bucks as pathetically as that team did.
Anyone, and I mean, anyone who could hear Ainge talking about people being willing to ‘play any role they have to’ and NOT think immediately of Terry Rozier has, at best, an exceptionally short memory.
The Celtics front office may not expect that Irving will re-sign with the team, but they will offer him a max contract. Terry Rozier, on the other hand, will probably get a qualifying offer, and nothing more.
I mean, geez, Marcus Smart didn’t just deflect a question about Irving’s leadership after the season was over, he buried it.
One of the more interesting arguments I’ve seen in favor of Shakespeare’s authorship of the plays attributed to him invokes Ben Jonson, a contemporary, colleague and competitor with the Bard:
“Who is Ben Jonson?” challenges Nunn. “He is Shakespeare’s great rival and a real talent. Garrulous, argumentative, jealous, proud, and deeply committed to exposing hypocrisy and corruption. Not a man to kowtow to nobility or privilege. What does he do? It’s Jonson who coins “the Swan of Avon” (ie the declaration that the author of the First Folio is from Stratford), and it’s Jonson who declares that he is “for all time” and then claims him as “MY Shakespeare”.
“Why on earth,” Nunn continues, “would Jonson, who owes nothing to anyone, and who had competed with Shakespeare throughout his professional life, take part in a cover-up to help the Earl of Oxford from admitting that he had anything to do with the theatre?” This, says Nunn, is “game, set and match to Shakespeare”.
Marcus Smart is Ben Jonson–he’s the heart and soul of the team, its longest tenured player, and a guy who has a reputation of laying it on the line. He’s also a firebrand with a decidedly imperfect command over his temper.
That he responded the way that he did to a question about Irving that came immediately after the season ended is sufficient evidence for me. Smart’s clear, profane, on point and on the record, defense of Irving is, to me, more persuasive than all of the anonymous remarks that have surfaced since then.
Smart, like Jonson, owes nothing to anyone–he was under no obligation to call Irving ‘my brother’, or to defend him as vigorously as he did. He could’ve answered that reporter’s question with a deflection, or even with a criticism of Irving. He didn’t. And that, from a guy who was there, is more impactful than a month’s worth of suppositions based on anonymous sources which may–or may not–ultimately trace back to one player who made his dissatisfaction with playing the role he was assigned clear to the entire world.
Look, Kyrie may or may not sign with the Celtics, and whether he does or doesn’t has nothing to do with what the fans think of him. But we’re all, collectively, going a bit crazy when we start to assume that the conclusions we’ve drawn from sensationalist reporting mirror the conclusions of guys who actually work for the team and know more about what’s really going on than we do.
Page 2: Where Ric Bucher says KD and Irving met during the Finals
Durant and Irving, league sources say, have met twice in recent weeks to discuss their desire to continue their careers on the same team, an idea forged while playing together on the U.S. national team. The first meeting took place in the Bay Area while Durant nursed a strained right calf; the second occurred in New York shortly after Durant had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals
I call BS on this. Durant traveled with the Warriors during the Finals. In the era of cell phone cameras, under what circumstances could Irving come within a mile of Durant without being noticed?
“Maybe they face-timed” — sure — because one thing that people like to do is make a life altering decision on the basis of a couple phone calls.
I’ve never bought the “KD and Irving are teaming up” narrative. You could construct a similar narrative involving just about any two random players in the NBA on the basis of the evidence summoned (‘They know each other outside of the NBA!!’ ‘they’ve had a conversation before!!’) There’s just not much of a market for stories talking about how Gorgui Dieng and Raymond Spalding want to team up because they both played for Louisville.
Bucher makes another allegation that doesn’t hold a lot of water:
No specific reason has been given for his change of heart, although a source close to Irving points to a tiff with team president Danny Ainge about how Irving was attempting to lead the club.
Ainge may be a lot of things, but he’s never been accused of being a meddler. I find it difficult to construct a scenario in which Irving and Ainge had a ‘tiff’ of such severity that it caused Irving to renege on his commitment to play for a championship-caliber team. Ainge isn’t Rob Pelinka. He’s not busying himself with the day-to-day affairs of the locker room.
Irving may well be out the door, but I can guaran-damn-tee you, the Celtics aren’t pushing him out, and they won’t be happy if he leaves.