Irving on Celtics debut: 'I just can't wait to get back out there'


Irving on Celtics debut: 'I just can't wait to get back out there'

BOSTON -- This time of year, there's a learning curve that all players on all teams must go through -- even Kyrie Irving, one of the more decorated 25-year-olds you'll find in the NBA.

Not only is he dealing with the usual getting-to-know-his-new teammates, but the four-time All-Star is adjusting to a new team, a new coaching philosophy and with it, a fan base that's unlike any other in the NBA.
And while he has only been a Boston Celtic for a few weeks, he has been a quick study as to how to quickly ingratiate himself to the fans.
During a panel hosted by NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin at the end of Boston's open practice on Sunday, Irving got the crowd going by starting a "Let's Go Cel-tics!" chant.
He and the rest of the Celtics hope to give their fans even more to cheer about tonight as they kick off their preseason slate of games at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
Part of the process of getting ready for the season is understanding that as important as every day can be to improvement, there's a balance that has to be struck between that and not overdoing things.
That's why earlier this week, Irving had a "maintenance" day where he did very little in practice.
While this is a new season, Irving and the Celtics are mindful of the fact that he has been to the NBA Finals each of the last three seasons. Those are the kinds of deep playoff runs that can gradually wear a player down unnecessarily over time.
I asked Irving about whether he's changed his preseason routine to better prepare for playing into late May and June.
"You just get smarter and become more efficient as to what workouts you're doing on a day-to-day basis," Irving said. "My focus level, as high as it is on the floor, it's the same as it is, off. So, just loving my body, giving it what it deserves, giving it great fuel and making sure I'm doing a great job of leading every single day."
There's another benefit to the preseason and it speaks to Irving's efforts to better display his leadership skills, which will be on full display this season with the Celtics.
As impressive as Irving has been throughout his time in the NBA, his ability to make those around him better will be a topic of discussion all season and just as important, a key to Boston having the kind of season so many envision them having.
And those lessons begin tonight.
He acknowledges one of his favorite parts of the preseason is seeing how his first-year teammates handle proven NBA players on opposing teams.
"The preseason is always their first time being around NBA talent for a constant amount of minutes, consistently over the game," Irving said. "Summer League is great, playing against guys in the summer is great, but now you have the sole intent to do everything possible to win a basketball game. So it changes, the dynamics change, the knowledge heightens up a little bit."
And rest assured, folks.
Irving will be ready.
"I just can't wait to get back out there," he says with a smile before adding, "and re-acclimate myself to NBA basketball games."


Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report ran a piece Tuesday listing the NBA's five "most overhyped players" entering the coming season. Jayson Tatum leads the list. Hold me back. 

These pieces are obviously subjective as hell, as they rely on "people probably think X," which may or may not be the reality of the situation. In the case of Tatum, writer Grant Hughes acknowledges that he feels Tatum is a franchise player, but that he could be a victim of the team for which he plays. 

Writes Hughes

Kyrie Irving has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover. Throw Gordon Hayward into the mix, and there will be even fewer touches for the 20-year-old wing. And that's to say nothing of Jaylen Brown, who's a superior defender at the moment and averaged 18 points per game in the playoffs on more efficient shooting than Tatum managed. He's due for an increased role as well.

C's fans can first breathe at the fact that Hughes most certainly is not calling Tatum overrated. Then, if they're rational, they can wonder whether Hughes has a point. 

Tatum's five best scoring games of the regular season came with Kyrie out of the lineup, one of which was prior to Irving being shut down for the season. He obviously went on to average over four and a half points more in the postseason without Irving (18.5) than he did in the regular season (13.9). 

No, Tatum is not going to be the Celtics' top scorer this season. He also won't be a rookie again. Dude looked like he tacked on like 80 pounds of muscle like a month after the season ended. He's been in gyms destroying everyone from Joel Embiid to a hilarious assortment of camp-going children. He's out here mentoring Kobe

Even if Brad Stevens wants to get creative and have Tatum come off the bench (that doesn't need to happen; he can start the five best players), Tatum is a lethal enough offensive player to put up 20 a night. 

But back to the idea of him being overhyped. I don't think anyone's putting the kid in the MVP conversation. They probably just saw the third overall pick have a really good rookie year and figure that he'll continue to blossom into a star, if he isn't one already. 

The other players listed in the piece were DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine, Josh Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard falls into the rule of thumb that if you're one of the five best players in the league, as Kawhi is, it's really easy for people to overhype you. That's not Leonard's fault. 

But the other guys? Who the heck is hyping -- let alone overhyping -- Zach LaVine? The only time Zach LaVine made headlines this summer was when he was given an offersheet by the Kings that most felt was too much and the Bulls matched it. Everyone thinks he's a stinky defensive player who's coming off an ACL injury. Unless there's some expectation that he's going to start averaging six or seven more points a night than he ever has, he isn't being overhyped. He's just overpaid. 

The Cousins pick could very well be fair. As Hughes writes, Boogie is a "luxury, not a game-changer for the Warriors." It's very possible that his impact on the Warriors won't be as significant as the league fears. Maybe he takes longer than expected to come back. Maybe when he does come back, he proves to be a divisive player with that group. Then again, maybe he gives them 25 and 12 a night and the Warriors go undefeated in the postseason. 

Selling Jackson as overhyped is tough. He's a second-year player who finished his rookie year on fire, including a 36-point performance against the Warriors. He sure as hell won't average 22.6 points like he did over his last 10 games as a rookie, but does anyone think he will? Nobody thinks he's a great shooter, but it's reasonable to expect something approaching the 18.7 he averaged post All-Star break, plus his usual strong defending.

Anyway, this Hughes fellow should have put Ben Simmons on the list. Guy never shoots threes. 


Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while.