By Mateo Aycardi
The Celtics wrapped up their 2019 campaign in debilitating fashion, dropping four straight contests to the Bucks to get eliminated from the playoffs. While the Celtics looked like one of the premiere threats to the Warriors in a possible NBA Finals matchup, the team struggled to coexist all year long.
There will be numerous storylines to keep an eye on as the team prepares for the unrestricted free agency of pivotal players, such as Kyrie Irving.
Here’s a look at who the Celtics might want to keep around, and who might be better off departing from the team come the 2019 season.
KEEP: Kyrie Irving (PG)
2018 Stats: 23.8 PPG | 6.9 APG | 5 RPG
While this was certainly one of the most frustrating seasons for Celtics fans since the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, no single entity was more disappointing than Irving.
The Celtics’ prized possession was meant to take on more of a leadership role now that he was surrounded with numerous talents and an organization with the focus on building a contender. But what Boston ultimately got from the former Cavalier was a self-centered attitude with an emphasis on the “me” rather than “we”.
However, should Irving approach Danny Ainge and Co. about a potential extension, he will be taking the first step in his long path to growth both as a professional and as a person. With his back against the wall, Irving will be forced to take one of two paths: Jump ship in order to get his fame and fortune elsewhere, or man up and take the season as a learning experience.
He would be putting his faith on the idea that Ainge will surround him with the proper support to bring another banner to the league’s most historic franchise.
GOODBYE: Terry Rozier (PG)
2018 Stats: 9.0 PPG | 3.9 RPG | 39 % FG
If the 2018 season was any indication of the talents that Terry Rozier would bring as a backup on a championship contending team, the outlook is not good.
One of the Celtics’ top performers from last year’s Eastern Conference Finals team, Rozier lit up the playoffs and provided Boston with an immense offensive spark. But out of all of the players that saw success in last year’s playoffs, it was Rozier who might have blown it out of proportion.
“I don’t give a [expeltive> what nobody say,” Rozier told reporters at the end of the season. “ I sacrificed the most out of anybody. I’m a top point guard in this league. I feel like it’s a fresh start, whether I’m here or whether I’m gone.”
Some people might consider Rozier’s comments as self-centered and a bit over the top. But the Celtics have done little to reassure Rozier about his future with the team, and the fact of the matter is that his production and attitude certainly don’t represent the best mindset for a backup on a championship-caliber roster.
KEEP: Al Horford (PF/C)
2018 Stats: 13.6 PPG | 6.7 RPG | 4.2 APG
When Al Horford arrived after signing a four-year max deal with the Celtics in the summer of 2015, expectations were clear.
The big guy from Atlanta was meant to provide some veteran leadership and star play after leaving the only place he had ever known. And since arriving in Boston, Horford has done exactly that.
“It’s a great organization; there’s a lot of history here,” Horford said in 2015. “I feel like everyone around the league respects it, we acknowledge it – that’s a big part of the reason why I chose to come here. You have to consider this is a special place, and I think that if people are open to it, they’ll see how special this place is.”
According to reports, the veteran forward would like to stay in Boston — and he might be open to taking a pay cut to make it happen. He is due over $29 million in this coming season with the team.
Horford’s demeanor has resonated with everyone he’s come across during his time in a Celtics uniform. Should he really be open to a pay cut, the Celtics might be more inclined to keep him around.
GOODBYE: Brad Wanamaker (PG)
2018 Stats: 3.9 PPG | 1.1 RPG | 1.6 APG
One of the biggest problems surrounding the 2018 Celtics was certainly the overflowing of the point guard position.
It’s not Wanamaker’s fault that he came into this sort of situation. With Irving and Rozier eating up 95 percent of the minutes, it’s surprising that Wanamaker and Ainge could come together on a deal that would keep both parties happy. After all, Wanamaker passed up on an offer north of $3 million dollars overseas to join the team on a 1-year deal.
But now that the Celtics realize their need for a rebounding/defensive presence in the interior alongside Horford, perhaps cutting Wanamaker loose would be the right move.
He doesn’t really provide a big enough impact (unlike Daniel Theis) to have a safe spot if Rozier departs. He also doesn’t really boast an NBA veteran presence, although his overseas experience might be valuable to some other team around the league.
KEEP: Marcus Morris (SF)
2018 Stats: 13.9 PPG | 6.1 RPG | 45% FG (Career High)
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 9, 2019
If there was one bright spot in this season from hell, it very well might have been Marcus Morris.
One of the most vocal leaders in the Celtics locker room all year long, Morris has proven that he has the chops to call it how he sees it, whether it be positive or negative. He’s also been one of Boston’s most consistent performers on both sides of the ball.
One of the big themes of the 2018 Celtics was certainly the lacking of passion and hustle that has made Boston such a dangerous team in recent memory. Following a decimating loss to the Los Angeles Clippers during the regular season, Morris ripped the team for their lackluster play and indifferent attitude.
“When I look around the league I see a bunch of guys getting up and cheering on the bench and playing for each other,” Morris noted. “We’re going to lose games, but we don’t have no attitude, we don’t have no toughness, we ain’t having fun. When I look at us, I just see a bunch of individuals.”
Morris has shown himself deserving of a solid contract not just for his play, but for his attitude as well. And any team moving forward should be ecstatic about adding him to their roster. Let’s just hope it’s the Celtics that make it work.
Full article @ Boston Celtics offseason preview: Who stays, who goes
Source: GreenStreet Blog