Celtics Lead

3 Possible Landing Spots for Kyrie

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Most Celtics fans can remember it clear as day– Kyrie Irving stands in front of the TD Garden crowd in his black shorts and long-sleeve Celtics shirt. With the microphone in his hand, he addressed the 19,580 fans in attendance.

“If you guys will have me back,” Irving said, “I plan on re-signing here next year.”

Kyrie’s promise to come back energized the fans. The crowd erupted into applause and cheers, overcome with relief and excitement as all the rumors about Kyrie wanting to leave when his contract expired had finally been put to rest with that one sentence. That is, until now.

Monday morning, NBA fans across the globe were waking up to their phones to see some shocking news– Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans. Perhaps it’s not a huge surprise, given that he gave the Pelicans year after year to provide some help, but through poor management and some bad luck, he just never received any.

Davis’ announcement shook up the NBA world, and in more ways than just one. It’s not just Davis and the Pelicans who are affected, but every team in the league. All 29 other teams are considering what they’d give up for Davis, and whether they have a legitimate chance or not. One of those teams is the Celtics, but the team’s situation is different than that of others.

Everybody knows that the Celtics can’t trade for AD right now because of the Rose Rule. Everybody knows the Celtics want AD and Kyrie to play together. What everybody doesn’t know, though, is that AD, and more importantly Kyrie, might not want to play for the Celtics.

From the moment Kyrie arrived in Boston, there have been questions about his dedication to re-sign. Several times throughout his tenure with the Celtics, rumors have surfaced about him leaving in free agency. The destinations have included the Knicks, Spurs and Heat. With Davis publicly saying he wants a trade, Celtics fans might want to fear now more than ever about Kyrie’s departure. Here are some possible landing spots for Kyrie over the summer.

1. KNICKS

One destination Kyrie might go next season is New York. The Knicks have engaged in talks with the Pelicans about a possible trade for Anthony Davis. It seems unlikely based on how limited the team’s assets are compared to those of the Lakers or the Celtics. Still, if New York somehow wins the Davis sweepstakes, the Knicks would become an even more promising destination for Irving when his contract expires.

The Knicks play in a top heavy eastern conference. The top five teams are locks for the playoffs, with the six through 15 seeds up for grabs by anyone. This is drastically different than the western conference, where there are roughly 13 legitimate playoff teams. If Irving wants to taste the NBA Finals again, his best bet of getting there may be to stay in the east. Pairing up with AD and perhaps Jimmy Butler one summer later is a tantalizing thought for Kyrie.

The Knicks would likely lose their young star Kristaps Porzingis in addition to one of the young, up and comers Kevin Knox or Allonzo Trier. Should Kyrie go to New York with that roster, he would be playing with a proven veteran in Davis. With the thought of adding another superstar in free agency, Kyrie could again play for a team with proven stars rather than young talent. If he’s tired of leading a group of young guys, this option seems like a real possibility.

2. LAKERS

Think about it: a Kyrie-LeBron reunion in Los Angeles, there’s almost nothing more repulsive to a Celtics fan (a Kobe Bryant comeback might be the only thing worse). It’s not the most unlikely move of all time, though, given the recent phone call the former teammates shared. The Lakers are planning to go after another superstar through free agency to pair with LeBron, and who better than Kyrie? The duo has already won a championship together against one of the greatest teams of all time. Pairing them up again might create the same magic.

The Lakers only have enough cap space to sign one more max contract, which hypothetically they would use on Irving. They could acquire another large contract through trade, though, which would inspire Irving even more to sign. If they land Davis before the season’s end, Kyrie would have the opportunity to team up with LeBron and AD, arguably two of the top five players in the league. Despite the fact that the western conference is stacked with contenders, these moves would instantly vault the Lakers towards the top and make them a threat to take down anybody. That temptation might just be enough to force Kyrie into breaking his promise to Boston.

3. CELTICS

What was once the most likely landing spot for Kyrie, the Boston Celtics are still in the running. Just because there’s talk of him leaving doesn’t mean he will. The rumors could just be rumors and he might actually want to stay. LeBron might just be an old friend and not a future teammate. Anthony Davis might not be enough to draw Kyrie anywhere else, and instead he’ll choose finish what he’s started in Boston rather than start again somewhere else. Kyrie said in his speech he’ll re-sign if Boston will have him, and Boston happily will.

He already plays with one of best young cores in the NBA, and arguably the deepest. The Celtics are capable of winning now, and will only get better. If he goes elsewhere, he might run into his old team in just a few years. The best option for championships might be to stay put. After all, this team was only one game away from the NBA Finals without him last year. They’ve had their struggles this season, but if they figure it out this team could run away with the east.

Speaking of the east, this scenario grants him the privilege of playing in the weaker conference as well. He’s familiar with the east, having spent all eight of his NBA seasons in the conference, so why leave now? He has a good situation, so why fix what isn’t broken? Boston might be the best option for Kyrie, so maybe the only difference for him this summer will be salary, not location.

One thing is certain– Boston should really take in the time they have with Kyrie. There’s no way to know what he’ll decide to do this summer, so fans should appreciate the time they have now, because it might not last as long as they think.

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