When the season ended for the Boston Celtics, many believed that Kyrie Irving had played his last game with the team. Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent, had reportedly been unhappy in Boston for most of the season, so him wanting out of Boston is not that much of a surprise. However, what surprised many was the report that Al Horford, who has a player option for next season, may opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Horford is scheduled to make $30.1 million in 2019-20.
While the 33-year-old Horford may opt out of his contract, reports are that he and the Celtics could come together on a multi-year deal. However, Horford should garner a lot of interest on the open market, and according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, Horford could be harder to replace than Irving.
“I think he’s(Kyrie Irving) going to move on. I think the Celtics have known that he’s going to move on for quite a while,” Elhassan recently told Paul Gant. “I don’t think that was as unexpected to them as the Al Horford stuff. That’s the kick in the gut for them because you are talking about a guy who they thought they could lock in at a lower number for a few more years. Now, it looks like he’s looking to leave. He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success there. Defensively, he has been their best player, and offensively, such a high IQ player. To lose him, I think that would be difficult to replace piece for the Celtics.”
Horford, with his versatility, would be harder to replace, and losing him would hurt the team. Therefore, it’s imperative that Boston does whatever it can to keep him around.
Listen below as Elhassan talks Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, Warriors, and more:
The Boston Celtics are one of the favorites in Eastern Conference, especially with the return of their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With LeBron James out of the East, and if Boston stays healthy, there is a good shot they get to the NBA Finals.
Arguably, the Celtics best player is Irving, and the five-time All-Star can become a free agent at the end of the season, but the 26-year-old Irving recently told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he wants to stay in Boston.
However, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, even though Irving is happy in Boston, he should still test free agency.
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 27, 2018
Last season, Irving missed the playoffs due to a knee injury.
It would not hurt for Irving to see what is out there, especially if he confident in his ability to stay healthy. In my opinion, he should test free agency. It’s always good to have options in life, and by becoming a free agent, Irving would have options.
After LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland to play with the Lakers, the East has become wide open. The Raptors, who were the number one seed in Eastern Conference last season, should be better after acquiring Kawhi Leonard. The Philadelphia 76ers have two cornerstone players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Boston Celtics will get back maybe their two best players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.
“Oh, we’re getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Celtics’ Jaylen Brown told CJ McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast.
Brown is confident, and the Celtics are confident, but Toronto with Leonard is going to be tough beat, so says ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Listen below as Smith talks Raptors and Celtics:
— First Take (@FirstTake) August 9, 2018
The East will come down to Boston, Philly, and Toronto with the Celtics being the favorite, but there are no guarantees that the Celtics won’t have any chemistry issues next season. With the return of Hayward and Irving, guys who were getting a lot of minutes last year, won’t be getting those same type of minutes next season. Therefore, that is something to keep an eye on going into the 2018-19 NBA season.
For the last seven years, LeBron James has dominated the Eastern Conference . Since the 2010-11 season, a LeBron James led team has represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Whether he is with the Heat or Cavaliers, James has found a way to get to the NBA Finals.
Now, with the emergence of the 76ers and Celtics, LeBron’s reign over the Eastern Conference could be coming to an end, according to former NBA player Jonathan Bender.
LeBron has had a cakewalk over the years through the East,” Bender told the Go4it podcast. “Within the next couple years, it’s going to be shut down because of the teams that’s coming up. Like Philadelphia coming on board. Obviously, what Boston has in the arsenal right now.”
LeBron’s run through the Eastern Conference has been impressive, but the past few seasons have been relatively easy. In the last three seasons, Cleveland is 12-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. None of the teams they beat(Hawks, Raptors, and Celtics) had a realistic chance to beat the Cavaliers.
Regarding the end of LeBron’s dominance over the Eastern Conference, that could end this year now that Cleveland is down 2-0 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Moving forward, the Celtics have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward coming back. Plus, they have the Sacramento Kings 2019 first-round pick. Philly has Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. Also, they have a ton of cap space, and they have the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Actually, LeBron might still be able to run the East if he decides to sign with Philly, which could happen, but we’ll have to wait until the summer to figure that all out.
In the end, if LeBron decides to stay in Cleveland, his dominance of the Eastern Conference is probably over.
Paul Pierce is not sure he wants a video tribute of Isaiah Thomas on his night. On February 11, Pierce’s number 34 will be retired by the Celtics.
Thomas, who went back to Boston as a member of the Cavaliers last night, but did not play, requested that the Celtics not give him a video tribute until the Cavaliers return to Boston on February 11.
Pierce talked about what he thinks should happen today on ESPN’s The Jump:
“On February 11, the night I get my jersey retirement, I’m not sure I want to look up at the jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights. After all the years I put in.
“I had a chance to watch Kobe’s, and throughout the game, the timeouts, it was a lot of tribute videos for him, and I enjoyed to watch that throughout the game. Now hopefully, the Boston Celtics will do that for me.”
“I’m not sure if I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”
Listen to what Pierce had to say:
A tough opening night in the NBA. The Celtics’ Gordon Hayward went down with a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The injury was bad!
Here is how Twitter reacted:
If Gordon Hayward is gone, maybe for the season, LeBron's path to losing a sixth finals gets even easier.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) October 18, 2017
Gordon Hayward take solace in we’ve seen Paul George any may others come back from a setback. Cry tonite and weary,then let it all go to God
— JOHN LUCAS ENT (@JLEnterprises) October 18, 2017
Celtics gather after Gordon Hayward is carried off pic.twitter.com/A7UjjM03ob
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 18, 2017
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) October 18, 2017
🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 @gordonhayward. Only God has ALL the answers.
— Shaun Livingston (@ShaunLivingston) October 18, 2017
Bench reax pic.twitter.com/QQ2l9N1eD0
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 18, 2017
Prayers up for @gordonhayward 🙏🏽
— Frank Mason (@FrankMason0) October 18, 2017
I can’t believe what just happened to @gordonhayward GOD BLESS in your recovery. Paul George came back from it. Hayward will as well
— Rick Kamla (@NBATVRick) October 18, 2017
God bless you bro @gordonhayward ! 🙏🏾 help him thru this god!
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) October 18, 2017
Prayers up for Gordon Hayward !!! 🙏🏽
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) October 18, 2017
Praying for my guy @gordonhayward!!! NEVER want to see any of the guys go through anything like that.
— DeAndre Jordan (@DeAndre) October 18, 2017
Prayers up @gordonhayward !!
— John Wall (@JohnWall) October 18, 2017
Prayers going out to Gordon Hayward!!!
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) October 18, 2017
Can't even put into words.
Feeling for you man.
Absolutely gut wrenching.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 18, 2017
Kendrick Perkins career could be over. Perkins was waived by the Cavaliers today. Perkins, who won an NBA title in Boston, was trying to make a comeback after not playing last season.
Perkins, 32, last played for the Pelicans in the 2015-16 season. Perkins has played 12 seasons in the NBA for the Celtics, Thunder, Cavaliers and Pelicans.
According to ESPN, Perkins is still looking to play in the NBA. However, Perkins told ESPN that the Cavaliers did offer him a coaching job.
Perkins tells ESPN he still hopes to play again in NBA. Cavs offering him chance to start coaching career. Perk was out of NBA in 2016-17.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 14, 2017
The Boston Celtics are going to look a little different this NBA season. Gone are Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk. In are Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and Jayson Tatum.
Boston finished first in the Eastern Conference last season, and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Cavs in five.
The biggest move for the Celtics this offseason was the trade of Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving.
Celtics F Jaylen Brown is not sure if the trade of Thomas is good for the team. Here is what he told Complex Magazine:
“It changes the whole dynamic, the whole culture. We’ll see if it’s for good or bad, time will tell. But it’s still a little weird to me, to be honest, because when I came in everything they stressed was culture, environment, Celtic basketball. Now, it’s like what is the environment, the culture, what is Celtic basketball? I think it’s a great opportunity for me, great opportunity for the Celtics, great opportunity for Kyrie. Obviously, I loved Isaiah. He was like a big brother to me. I watched him, admired him, the chip he carried on his shoulder I love him. I still do. I’ve kept in contact with him. Congratulated him when he got traded to the Cavs. It’s tough because it’s the business we live in. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily. I think Isaiah definitely tried to plant his flag in Boston. He will definitely be missed—he and Jae [Crowder] both. And Avery [Bradley], too. Those three guys are truly going to be missed. I love them and I thanked all of them for helping me out and said I’d see them down the line,” Brown said.