Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

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Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by bobheckler on Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:25 pm

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/celtics-wild-summer-capped-by-kyrie-irving-trade-leaves-their-future-wide-open/




Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open



A look at where the Celtics improved and where they might struggle after incredibly high turnover



Matt Moore
mugshot by Matt Moore
@MattMooreCBS


20h ago • 9 min read




The deal finally went down.

Kyrie Irving is with the Boston Celtics and all it cost them was an All-Star, third-team All-NBA franchise point guard and emotional leader, a versatile two-way role player forward and the most valuable remaining draft pick in their stocked cupboard. But whatever the cost, the moves have been made and the Celtics are going to be entirely different. This team is Kyrie Irving's now, and it is not at all the team that reached the Eastern Conference finals last season.

So of course, here's the question ... are they better now than they were last season?

Boston Celtics offseason player movement

OUT................................................................................IN
Brooklyn Nets' 2017 No. 1 pick (Markelle Fultz)....................Jayson Tatum (No. 3 pick in draft)
Isaiah Thomas.................................................................Lakers' 2018 first-round pick (if 2-5 only)
Jae Crowder.....................................................................Kyrie Irving
Nets' 2018 first-round pick (unprotected).............................Gordon Hayward
Avery Bradley...................................................................Marcus Morris
Amir Johnson...................................................................Aron Baynes
Jones Jerebko..................................................................Guerschon Yabusele
Kelly Olynyk.....................................................................Semi Ojeyele


That is a lot of talent out, a lot of talent in. The Celtics return just four players from last season's Eastern Conference finalist: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Al Horford. It's an incredible amount of turnover for a team with such success. Let's break this down into components.


Point guard

Thomas, with his hip injury that could keep him out for some unknown amount of time, is obviously not as valuable as Irving. Fully healthy, it's a wash in the moment. Long-term, Irving is much more valuable. That's part of what's fascinating about this deal. You can spin this deal as being future-focused ... but the Celtics also surrendered the Nets pick. You can spin it as being about the immediate future, but they're not ready to contend for a title yet.

Irving's fit with Boston is suspect relative to Thomas, but the big ethos behind that trade-off is about potential ceilings. The idea is that maximized with Brad Stevens, Irving could lift the Celtics to a higher level than Thomas could, over a longer period of time given Thomas' age. The best of Kyrie Irving is yet to come, the thinking goes, and that will be better than anything Thomas or the Nets pick could provide.

That's a gamble, on a lot of levels. All of this is a gamble for president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. If Irving doesn't fit in, if things don't go well and Irving leaves in free agency in 2019, if he doesn't adapt and frays with teammates (or worse, with Stevens, who has yet to have a player he didn't get along with outside of maybe Rajon Rondo) -- there's a whole array of ways this goes sideways, just from the prospect of building your team around Irving.

And they have built their team around Irving. You don't surrender as much as Boston did in this deal without giving him leverage and influence over the organization. Under Stevens, everything has been collective, a true team effort, the Celtics' whole was stronger than the sum of their parts. Now, they've built their team around Irving. He is not the same player he was when LeBron James arrived. He has grown and developed. But it's difficult to escape how troublesome a player Irving was. He was a defensive non-entity (and that hasn't changed). He had just finished his first season with more than 60 games played, and had suffered a regression in shooting efficiency. More than that, though, he had struggled as the franchise icon, blowing off fan appreciation nights and remaining aloof.

That's part of this equation, too. Isaiah Thomas was like a band's frontman. He was comfortable, eager even, to be the face of a franchise. Irving is more idiosyncratic, and not just in his views on the shape of the planet. If Thomas was U2's Bono, Irving is Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, perhaps a greater talent, but more shy to the spotlight despite his familiarity with it.

All of these things make the Celtics a fascinating storyline to watch play out. Their upside is sky high and the potential for disaster is equally high.


Role players

Amir Johnson, who has had a tremendous career, was barely playable in the playoffs last season. So he's no loss. But the Bradley-Crowder-Olynyk trifecta is an incredible loss. Boston retained its three best players in defensive win shares last season, but lost the three next best while adding Hayward.

Bradley next to Irving would have been an incredible backcourt, far better than Thomas-Bradley because Bradley wouldn't have to account for Irving's size constantly. Crowder's versatility and containment were impactful. Olynyk was surprisingly good the past two seasons after the Celtics implemented a scheme to provide containment with Olynyk instead of using him to hedge or blitz in pick-and-rolls, where he could be exploited.

Hayward is a star upgrade. No doubt there. But are Hayward and Marcus Morris better than the three they lost? That's a key question, and the answer is probably no, at least on the defensive end. Boston is counting on progression from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to make up for that, and those are reasonable gambles. Even if their overall knowledge base defensively falls off, those two are high-motor, aggressive defenders, and that mitigates the mistakes they'll make.

The Celtics are relying on a lot more inexperience now. Al Horford is a rock, Hayward is an All-Star and Irving is an explosive, dynamic superstar, at least in the fame sense. But Smart's game is still incomplete, Brown is still painfully young, Jayson Tatum doesn't project as being versatile so much as an efficient weapon and the other kiddos' roles and abilities are unknown. Like it is with the entirety of this offseason, there's a huge amount of variance to go with the upside in their decisions.


Picks

Most of this is unknowable. Weird things happen all the time with the lottery, and not just the actual ping pong balls but the bizarre nature of the season. The Sixers tried harder than maybe any team in NBA history to tank in 2014 and the Milwaukee Bucks still landed the best odds in the lottery, only to watch Cleveland jump them.

The Nets pick that Boston transferred instantly suffered a narrative edit from Beantown. Before, the talk was "look at how stacked the Celtics are, with a good team and picks!" Upon dealing it, you started to hear word from those connected to the team, "Well, the Nets pick might not even be that good this year."

Spoiler alert: The Nets pick is still going to be pretty good.

The worst-case scenario for Cleveland is that the Cavaliers get a pick somewhere between six and 10 next June, giving them a good role player but not a star in the event that James leaves. However, wouldn't a pick of that range be perfect for Boston? To add to their core, especially given their lack of frontcourt depth? The worst-case scenario for the Celtics, meanwhile, is that the Nets are still bad, or at least bad enough to give themselves a top-three odds placement, which seems likely if not certain, and they wind up with one of either Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley III.

Meanwhile, the Celtics can rationalize that loss with the acquisition of Tatum, who they supposedly/reportedly wanted No.1, and the Lakers pick. It should be noted, though, that the Lakers pick is protected for all but just four spots in the lottery: two through five. So if the Lakers wind up with the fourth-worst record in the NBA and two teams (miraculously) jump them in the lottery, the Sixers keep that pick. The pick then transfers to the 2019 unprotected Kings pick Philly owns.

Two years from now, will the Kings be a laughingstock? Well, we've thought they had to pull themselves out at some point over the past 12 years and it hasn't happened. The Kings have had a top-five pick three times since 1991. There's a good chance it's still a good pick, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if Sacramento pulled itself into the 8-12 range by then, either. But then, it could also hit in the lottery as well.

One thing you cannot say: The Celtics are not as set for the future as they once were. They are likely not getting a superstar, but they believe they have the stars they need, and Tatum and Brown could develop.


Chemistry

This is where all that turnover gets tough. They lost their emotional leader in Thomas, they lost long-time grinder guys in Crowder and Bradley. They brought in Irving as their leader, which we talked about above, and Gordon Hayward, who isn't a dominant personality but is generally known as a "good dude," same as Horford (also not an outspoken leader). Smart might take over as the dominant personality. That will have benefits and challenges. Brown has shown a brashness that could lead to that role for him as well, but those are both young guys.

More than anything, there's a disruption in continuity, and that usually leads to challenges. It takes time for teams to come together with this many new parts. So they might take a step backward next season, even with (arguably) better talent. Going forward, it will depend on if they can mesh.


So are they better?

The short answer is that they could be. Do you care about what the best-case scenario is, or the most likely range of outcomes? The ceiling for the Celtics, with Irving as a transcendent, play-making supernova scorer next to Hayward as his perfect complement and the young guys all becoming the most they can be, is higher than the overachieving try-hards they were last season. Boston won 53 games in 2016-17, four games above where metrics indicate they should have finished. Their moves this summer show that the front office wasn't convinced this was sustainable, and made moves toward what it thought was a brighter future.

But there's so much more risk involved. If Irving isn't the guy they believe he is unless he's next to James, if the picks don't work out just right, if Tatum and Brown never become special, if Horford tails off with age and injury, if the chemistry isn't the same, all of these things are bigger risks than a model with a lower ceiling they could have tweaked and improved upon. You cannot help but wonder about the other stars moved this summer, for so much less than Boston gave up, and whether that team, with Thomas -- even with the injury -- next to Hayward and either Paul George or Jimmy Butler, or maybe DeMarcus Cousins down the line, would have been better.

Then again, the war chest remains at least half-full, and there's always the dream of Anthony Davis. The Celtics' "win now, dream about later" approach never really ends.


bob



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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by swish on Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:24 pm

Nice job by the author of presenting the various scenarios that are possible over the next few years - including his final paragraph when he touches on the IFS in regards to the long term future of the Celts. It could be that a great future lies ahead - could be !

swish


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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by dboss on Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:50 pm

In several posts I have read about the risk that Kyrie may not fit.

After listening to the news conference I am more convinced than ever that he will be a great fit because he acknowledged that he can learn more about the game from coach Stevens.

Make no doubt about this. Kyrie is that superstar player that we have longed for. He is a top 10 player.

We did give up a lot of things to get here. IT, Bradley and Crowder are gone. If Jaylen Brown is ready and able to become worthy of his 3rd in the draft selection this is a huge win for Boston.

Tatum is NBA ready and once he adds strength he will be a significant contributor to this team. Al Horford can play with anyone and Danny decided not to screw around with his shelf life. Danny has put this team into contention now. Morris is a thug who has a mean attitude and the size and strength to bang with Lebron.

Yes chemistry needs to be established but with Brad coaching this team I seriously doubt if that will be an issue. Consider the 22 trades Danny has made over the past few years and the ability for Brad to have a successful team is the true measuring stick.

I see zero negative and risk really does not seems so great. With this much talent you cannot fail.

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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by swish on Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:12 pm

Gutsy call dboss - out on a limb like that (seemingly without a parachute). Good luck!

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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by tjmakz on Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:45 pm

In my opinion, Kyrie is not a top 10 player.
He has never made the 1st or 2nd team All-NBA.
He made the 3rd team one time.

It seems like when he shines is in the playoffs.
His individual skills are incredible as we all know.
How much better will he make his teammates as a distributor?
Will he really want to be The Man who leads the Celtics?
IT without question was the leader of the Celtics and earned The Man title.
I do think that he will buy into Brad's system for the sake of the team.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by jrleftfoot on Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:30 pm

News conferences don`t convince me of anything. I guess that`s just me being cynical. Did anybody expect these guys to say something negative or controversial? I think the writer laid it out pretty well. Maybe the gamble will be worth it. Maybe it won`t. Anybody who thinks this makes the Celtics a contender for the trophy this year needs their head examined. Hoping for the best, long term. If Brown becomes a superior defender and he and Tatum live up to their potential , all may go well, eventually.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by fierce on Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:45 pm

tjmakz wrote:In my opinion, Kyrie is not a top 10 player.
He has never made the 1st or 2nd team All-NBA.
He made the 3rd team one time.

It seems like when he shines is in the playoffs.
His individual skills are incredible as we all know.
How much better will he make his teammates as a distributor?
Will he really want to be The Man who leads the Celtics?
IT without question was the leader of the Celtics and earned The Man title.
I do think that he will buy into Brad's system for the sake of the team.

Kyrie is not a top 10 player?

Really?

Did you not see the 2016 NBA Finals?

He shines only in the playoffs?

I'd rather have that than a player who always has a great regular season then underachieves in the playoffs.

IT was one of those players who put up better numbers in the regular season than in the playoffs.

So clearly the Celts got an upgrade here.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by swish on Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:57 pm

You might want to consider the impact that the loosing of Bradley and Crowder will have on the defense. Bradley was 1st team all nba in 2015-16 and Crowder got 3 1st team votes.

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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by fierce on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:37 am

swish wrote:You might want to consider the impact that the loosing of Bradley and Crowder will have on the defense. Bradley was 1st team all nba in 2015-16 and Crowder got 3 1st team votes.

  swish

Celts have potential new defenders in the making in Jaylen Brown, Rozier, and Ojeleye.

Right now Celts still have Smart, so losing Bradley is not a big of a deal considering the Celts got Hayward in FA.

Crowder is very good defensively, but not on the same level as Draymond Green.

I believe we'll see the final product after the 2018 Lakers pick or 2019 Kings or Sixers pick is determined.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by BleedGreen on Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:13 am

swish wrote: Nice job by the author of presenting the various scenarios that are possible over the next few years - including his final paragraph when he touches on the IFS in regards to the long term future of the Celts. It could be that a great future lies ahead - could be !

  swish


Actually, the author pretty much lays out that it is almost entirely on Kyrie Irving and Stevens to make their future great. Two individuals Ainge has put a lot of trust in. A distant third is Tatum becoming worthy of his hype, which Ainge kicked off by making it known he felt he was worthy of #1, but scouts, insiders and fans confirmed how special he is for his age after watching his play this summer.

There is a difference between 'could be' and 'most likely will be'. If you don't trust Ainge, Stevens and Irving then they only 'could be' great. If you do, then they almost certainly will be great (barring injuries) everything else is pretty inconsequential. Worst case is the C's are barely affected and best case is they become amazing when it comes to anything involving people other than Irving, Stevens and Tatum.

Even if Brown, Smart and Rozier barely improve the C's have solid role players there and will be able to combine to replace Bradley, who they would have been unable to afford in a year anyhow. They added guys in their prime who we know what they are already. Hayward, Morris and Baynes combine to be better than Jae, Olynyk and Amir. Even the kids on the deep, deep bench should be better with Yabu, Semi, Larkin and Nader over Mickey, Young and Jackson.

Finally, the draft is a great unknown. It has little bearing on whether the C's make-over is a failure, and the presence of the LA/Kings pick and under the radar Grizzlies protected picks in '19 and '20 that is unprotected in '21 simply add to the C's riches and can only be seen as something that can help and not hurt them in the future. The Nets pick could be top 3, or 8-12, same with the La/Kings pick the C's own. Regardless of if Cleveland gets a great player it does little to affect the C's 2 year plan to be ready to compete with Golden State. Will it be enough to keep LBJ in Cleve? Unlikely. But if it does, The King will be 34-36 when Boston plans to win #18 and almost certainly too old to keep up his recent performances.

The wheels really will have to fall off involving Kyrie's fit with Brad and Tatum will have to be a bust for this team's future to not be great. If any "fans" want to live in a pessimistic world where they constantly harp on how that 'could be' so be it. Stew in your own misery. But the reality is that the future is almost certainly great.

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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by BleedGreen on Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:15 am

swish wrote:Gutsy call dboss - out on a limb like that (seemingly without a parachute). Good luck!

  swish

Much rather be dboss than someone hedging their bets with "this could still all go badly" wet blanket pessimism when it would take A LOT of small % events and/or injuries to actually get to that reality.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by BleedGreen on Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:24 am

fierce wrote:
tjmakz wrote:In my opinion, Kyrie is not a top 10 player.
He has never made the 1st or 2nd team All-NBA.
He made the 3rd team one time.

It seems like when he shines is in the playoffs.
His individual skills are incredible as we all know.
How much better will he make his teammates as a distributor?
Will he really want to be The Man who leads the Celtics?
IT without question was the leader of the Celtics and earned The Man title.
I do think that he will buy into Brad's system for the sake of the team.

Kyrie is not a top 10 player?

Really?

Did you not see the 2016 NBA Finals?

He shines only in the playoffs?

I'd rather have that than a player who always has a great regular season then underachieves in the playoffs.

IT was one of those players who put up better numbers in the regular season than in the playoffs.

So clearly the Celts got an upgrade here.

Very true as far as Kyrie in the playoffs vs. IT.

I said before that both guys are A offensive players and D defensive ones in the regular season. If they were the same height, age, injury risk and earning the same paycheck it would be a wash, but Irving's clearly ahead of IT in those other factors.

Then in the playoffs when the stakes are raised, the games get tighter and D improves, IT falls to being a B offensive player b/c he cannot give the same production as in the regular season and he remains a D defender b/c he was trying hard on that end all the time. Irving meanwhile stays an A offensive player in the playoffs and raises his defense to at least a C, which he has proven the last 3 playoffs and at 25 with his insightful comments on still growing/learning he might even be able to improve even more in a new system and new mindset outside of LeBron's shadow and his admitted immaturity.

Top 10 player? Not yet. He's in the 12-16 range but he can definitely get there. Top 10 offensive weapon to have in the postseason? For sure. Probably 5-7 range.
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Re: Celtics' wild summer, capped by Kyrie Irving trade, leaves their future wide open

Post by BleedGreen on Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:26 am

swish wrote:Gutsy call dboss - out on a limb like that (seemingly without a parachute). Good luck!

  swish

The parachute is the best case scenario for this franchise that was laid out pretty clearly and is more likely to happen than it is for Kyrie and Stevens to clash, Tatum and Brown to bust and other core players/known commodities to regress. Derr
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