Celtics Moving On From Irving
As expected, Kyrie Irving declined his $21.3 million (M) 2019-2020 player option on Wednesday. Irving’s commitment has been inconsistent, to put it politely, since he arrived with the Boston Celtics two years ago. Now the Celtics will formally move on from Irving and will look to replace him, either through the draft or free agency. Irving’s departure will undoubtedly make it more difficult to draw another superstar to Boston, e.g. the much obsessed-over Anthony Davis. The Celtics cap issues are well known, despite Irving’s $21.3M coming off the books, so does it even matter? As I’ve written for Boston Sports Extra, the Boston Celtics need to keep it in house.
Aaron Baynes Coming Back
Aaron Baynes picked up his $5.9M player option Wednesday. The 6’10” center provides veteran depth in addition to a solid backup to Al Horford. The 32-year old Australian played in 51 games in 2018-2019, averaging 5.6 ppg and 4.7 rebounds per game (rpg) in only 16 minutes per game. In fact, per 36 minutes Baynes averages 12.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, and 1.5 blocks per game, which would make him a top-20 center. Baynes also shot 86% from the free throw line, making him a late-game asset rather than the liability typical of his position.
Boston’s Next Move
With Irving gone and Baynes signed through the 2019-2020 season, what is the Celtics next move? The 2019 NBA Draft is a week away. Will the Celtics address their needs in the draft? If they do, are Horford, Baynes and Marcus Smart enough of a veteran presence? Will their young stars progress with Irving gone and accept leadership roles? Do the Celtics trade their young stars for a superstar, even if it’s just for a year rental? Questions remain, but two things are certain. Aaron Baynes will be a Celtic next season, and the team has officially moved on from Kyrie Irving. If nothing else, Irving’s departure brings a sense of closure to a mentally-taxing situation.
Wild Off Season
The Boston Celtics are still in great position. The fast-approaching free agency period could be one of the wildest in years. The once predictable off-season is now plagued with uncertainty. The Celtics have multiple first round draft picks and young stars. Danny Ainge has proven a savvy, business-first general manager. The NBA is approaching crazy times and the Boston Celtics have the assets and the front office brass to make sense of it all.