Celtics

Brian Windhorst believes LeBron James will recruit Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

Brian Windhorst believes LeBron James will recruit Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

If Kyrie Irving leaves the Celtics in free agency after committing to the team before the start of the season, it probably won't sit well with the organization and its fans. If he leaves to go the Lakers, Boston's arch-rival? Oh boy. 

On the Stephen A. Smith show Thursday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said he thinks Kyrie Irving is considering the Lakers as a free agent destination, and that former teammate LeBron James will attempt to recruit him to LA. 

Windhorst also notes that he thinks the Knicks and Nets are higher on Irving's list than the Lakers, but believes their play styles mesh well despite their personality differences. Irving and James won a championship in 2016 by coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Warriors, and made a run of three consecutive Finals appearances. Then Irving requested a trade after the 2016-17 season in an effort to get out from under James' shadow. 

However, less than two weeks ago, Smith claimed he had sources telling him there was, 'No way in hell' Irving would join the Lakers this summer.

The 2018-19 season did not end the way Irving or the Celtics expected it to coming out of training camp, but it doesn't seem like noise suggesting Irving's departure is as ironclad as a public declaration of his intent to re-sign, even if it was eight months ago. 

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NBA execs have differing opinions on Jaylen Brown's new Celtics contract

NBA execs have differing opinions on Jaylen Brown's new Celtics contract

When the Boston Celtics inked Jaylen Brown to a four-year, $115 million deal on Tuesday, plenty of C's fans were happy to see their prized 22-year-old forward get locked up for a few more seasons. But the deal left some NBA executives scratching their heads.

Brown's talent isn't in question, but rather the hefty price tag Danny Ainge dished out to keep the 2016 first-round draft pick from becoming a restricted free agent next summer. One Eastern Conference executive told Bleacher Report, "I like the player, but..." suggesting $115 million over four years was an overpay.

Meanwhile, a Western Conference exec said of Brown's lucrative contract, "I imagine there are incentives. Gotta be." That's a correct assumption, as Brown will make $4 million if he plays in at least 65 games, the C's rack up at least 49 wins, and they make it to the second round of the playoffs according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He'll also get up to $8 million if he earns league MVP honors, the Defensive Player of the Year award, or is named to an All-NBA team.

Considering all of those incentives, the exec added, "That makes [the contract] a bit more reasonable."

Another criticism of the deal, per Bleacher Report, came from an agent who asked, "I don't get it. What's the rush to get a deal done?"

The contract may not have earned a 100-percent approval rating across the league, but the Celtics at least won't have to worry about a key piece of their young core potentially heading elsewhere anytime soon. Plus, it wasn't all negative feedback as one East exec called Brown "a stud" and believes he'll be worth the big money.

Only time will tell whether that's the case. Brown's chance to prove his worth begins on Wednesday night as he and the C's will begin the 2019-20 season vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of C's-Sixers starts at 6:30 p.m ET. Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Bigger market, expectations highlight changes for Celtics' Kemba Walker

Bigger market, expectations highlight changes for Celtics' Kemba Walker

PHILADELPHIA — Kemba Walker is just hours away from the official start of his ninth NBA season and first with the Boston Celtics. 

Walker established himself as a top-shelf talent in this league years ago, but the audience to witness his growth and evolution was relatively small because he starred in a small NBA market for a team with limited success. And the interest level was low because frankly, the same could be said for the expectations for success. 

But that’s all in the past now that Walker plays for the Boston Celtics, a team that is considered among the upper-tier teams in the Eastern Conference. 

With that kind of perceived positioning comes a level of expectations unlike anything Walker has experienced in his eight seasons in Charlotte. 

In that time, Walker has only been to the playoffs twice and each time the Hornets were the lower seed and soon found themselves bounced out of the first round. 

But in Boston, the Celtics are likely to have home-court advantage once the playoffs arrive, which will be yet another first for Walker. 

Getting a chance to lead a more talented team and do so on a larger, more grander stage than he has in the past, is part of what makes his role with the Celtics such a special one — and one that’s entirely new and refreshing to him at the same time. 

“This is what I wanted, the opportunity I wanted,” Walker said. “I’m happy to be here.”

And the Celtics are thrilled to call the former UConn star one of their own as well. 

When it became increasingly more clear that Kyrie Irving was not coming back to Boston, the Celtics began to look into potential replacements. The news that the Hornets were not going to max-out Walker after he was named to the All-NBA’s Third Team, qualifying him for a supermax contract, was just enough of an opening for the Celtics to swoop in and convince the 29-year-old Walker to come to Boston. 

Walker does indeed have a different kind of responsibility now compared to when he was in Charlotte.

The Hornets were consistently in the mode of building towards being a playoff-caliber team, but in Boston, getting to the postseason isn’t enough to satisfy the appetite of Celtics fans. 

While Philadelphia and Milwaukee have earned the right to be the teams everyone in the East is focused on trying to knock off, Boston is still expected to be in the mix. 

And a good chunk of the responsibility for making that happen has to fall upon the shoulders of Walker. 

His teammates aren’t overly concerned with how he’ll handle the weight of expectations.

“Kemba’s a pro. He’ll be fine,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston earlier this month. “He’s probably feeling a little more pressure to win here, and that’s fine. We all are; we come in expecting to compete and win games everyday so he fits right into what we all want, what we all feel and who we are as a team. Like I said, Kemba’s gonna be fine.”

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