Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury could keep Kyrie Irving in Boston. It is undoubtedly crass to think of a potentially career-altering injury in those terms, but Durant’s status will likely impact NBA free agency more than any other variable this summer. He is the first big domino, and now, he may stay in Golden State.
Up to this point, conventional wisdom said Durant would opt out of his $31.5 million option with the Warriors next season, so he could land a long-term maximum deal on the open market. He’s been speculated to team up with Irving for either the Knicks or Nets, both of whom boast enough cap space to land two superstars.
Last week, the ever-reliable Stephen A. Smith declared “all indications” point to Irving joining the Nets. SNY’s Ian Begley followed up, saying while Irving is still considering the Knicks, he almost certainly doesn’t want to return to Boston.
But that could change if Durant stays on the West Coast to rehab next season. That would probably be his best play from a financial standpoint, unless the Knicks or Nets still wish to shell out nearly $200 million for a superstar with uncertain status.
The Celtics remain in position to offer the best package for Anthony Davis, especially if they’re willing to include Jayson Tatum in a deal for the bonafide superstar. Irving may not be in love with Boston anymore, but the idea of playing alone in Madison Square Garden or even alongside D’Angelo Russell for the upstart Nets likely pales in comparison to pacing the parquet with Davis. Plus, the Celtics can offer Irving $180 million, which is $50 million more than any other team.
Now, the Celtics’ ability to offer Irving the most money over the long-term doesn’t guarantee he would be willing to sign for multiple years. Perhaps Irving best’s move would be signing a 1-and-1 deal to remain in Boston for the 2019-20 campaign, allowing him to reevaluate his options next summer, when Davis is a free agent as well.
It would be a risky proposition for the Celtics, who would be tasked with the somewhat degrading task of trying to convince both Irving and Davis to stay with them past next season. If both stars come and then leave, the franchise would seemingly fall back into the lottery.
But that might be the only option for the Celtics, and it’s preferable to having neither Davis nor Irving. Durant’s Achilles injury, while catastrophic for him, may have given Danny Ainge another chance to build his championship team.
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Source: GreenStreet Blog