Celtics

The flat truth about Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston

The flat truth about Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston

A lot has been made, and will continue to be made, about Kyrie Irving’s vague response to questions about his long-term future with the Celtics. The star point guard said, “Contractually, financially, [an extension] just doesn't make any sense,” when asked about potentially signing an extension with the Celtics this summer (Irving would make approximately $80 million more if he opted out of his contract and re-signed with the Celtics next summer).

A lot has also been made, and will continue to be made, about Irving’s vague response to questions about his opinion on the shape of the Earth. The 26-year-old was vexingly ambiguous on the topic in an interview with the New York Times' Sopan Deb last week.

Not enough has been made about the connection between the two topics: Kyrie’s feelings about his future with the Celtics and his skepticism about the shape of the planet.

Alex Moshakis recently wrote about a Flat Earther conference for the Guardian and made a few observations about the type of people in attendance that reminded me of Kyrie.

A distrust of the establishment, or “them,” is necessary for anyone who doubts the scientific consensus we’ve held for thousands of years. Now, I don’t know Irving (although I did say hello to him at Media Day last fall) but I could see why he might have trust issues. The Cavaliers signed him to a max extension in the summer of 2014, releasing a statement in which they called him “firmly at the core of our Cavaliers team and family for years to come." just days later they signed LeBron James. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2016, when word reportedly gets to Kyrie that the team has had internal talks about what they might receive in return for him in a trade. Irving hit the arguably the biggest shot in NBA history in Game 7 of the 2015 NBA Finals, helping the Cavaliers overcome a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Golden State Warriors...and they’re thinking of trading him? 

That’s when the next common trait of Flat Earthers comes into play. Moshakis notes that many of the people he spoke to at the conference were in search of control over their life. They don’t want to just swallow what scientist tell them because it’s what everyone else does, they want to decide for themselves, and that a rejection of the establishment is a “bid to reclaim personal agency.” Irving’s request for a trade was a way to regain control of his career … just like unrestricted free agency will be next summer.

Harry Dyer, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia was also at the Flat Earth conference. His write up on Live Science  focused on the attendees' skepticism “of existing power structures and their tight grasps on knowledge.” Irving’s appearance on ESPN’s First Take last fall was a clear example of his refusal to accept social norms. He doesn’t care whether he was “supposed” to want to stay with LeBron James, the best player on the planet. He wanted to leave and didn’t care what NBA society thought about it. It’s honestly refreshing.

That’s why reading into Kyrie’s comments, one way or the other, about his future with the Celtics are just conjecture. Conventional wisdom says he should want to stay in Boston, where he will make the most money, play for a prestigious franchise with an elite coach surrounded by young players with star potential. But conventional wisdom means nothing to Kyrie. He’s told us that with his words and actions. Kyrie has earned the right to control his career, and that’s exactly what he will do next summer. Let’s hope he decides this city is the best place on Earth, whatever shape it may be, for him to grow in.

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NBA rumors: Celtics, Mavs at 'front of the line' trying to lure Kemba Walker

NBA rumors: Celtics, Mavs at 'front of the line' trying to lure Kemba Walker

The Boston Celtics' pursuit of All-Star point guard Kemba Walker in NBA free agency is serious, according to reports Tuesday.

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Tuesday the Celtics were emerging as a "stealth suitor" for the Charlotte Hornets guard, who will be an unrestricted free agent beginning June 30. Stein added more reporting regarding the Celtics and Walker in another tweet later Tuesday afternoon.

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer termed the Celtics' interest in Walker as "serious."

The Celtics will be in need of a top-tier point guard if Kyrie Irving leaves Boston in free agency, and recent reports (as well as the latest betting odds) indicate the Brooklyn Nets are the most likely destination for him. Boston could always re-sign restricted free agent Terry Rozier, but Walker is a clear upgrade over the Celtics' backup point guard.

Walker was an All-Star starter last season (his first ASG appearance) and averaged a career-high 25.6 points in 82 games for the Hornets. He is eligible for a super-max contract extension with the Hornets that would be worth more than $200 million over five seasons. That's a lot of money, but the Hornets are nowhere near a legitimate NBA title contender, so Charlotte would not be the best option for him if winning is very important.

The Mavericks reportedly are a contender to sign Celtics forward Al Horford, who's also an unrestricted free agent. Luka Doncic, the newly crowned 2018-19 Rookie of the Year Award winner, handled the ball a lot for the Mavs last season, but he's not a true point guard. A Walker-Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis trio for the Mavericks could help them compete in what should be a wide open Western Conference title race next season as a result of the Golden State Warriors being decimated by injuries.

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Boston-bleeding Marcus Smart ready for whatever's next for Celtics

Boston-bleeding Marcus Smart ready for whatever's next for Celtics

BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he won’t begrudge Kyrie Irving and Al Horford if they elect to depart this summer but he was staunch in suggesting that Boston remains a destination for championship-seeking players.

Smart, decked out in a Celtics-green cobra shirt and a black bandana, met with reporters Tuesday during a break in his annual youth camp on the campus of Brandeis University and went to bat for the city when asked about the notion that players might not want to come here.

"I think it kind of speaks for itself. We’ve got the Patriots, we’ve got the Bruins, we’ve got the Red Sox, we’ve got the Celtics. You name me another city that’s got four teams in different categories like that that’s all known for winning championships,” said Smart. "It gets no better than that. 

"I don’t know who is saying that, or why they’re saying it, who knows? But, for me, being here and experiencing it for myself, Boston is definitely a place you want to be, especially if you’re trying to compete for a championship.”

Smart said he’s talked with Irving since the end of the season but steered clear of basketball topics. He admitted Irving’s potential departure, and that of Horford, did catch him by surprise a bit, though he’s become numb to change during his time in the NBA. Smart is focused on what he can do to get Boston back on track after a maddening year.

"I see my role as bigger than ever now,” said Smart, who started alongside Irving much of last season but could slide into the first-unit point guard role depending on how Boston’s offseason plays out. "Just because, once again, being that longest-tenured Celtic, going into my sixth season and really understanding [coach] Brad [Stevens] and this organization, and the system that he likes to run, and just, that’s who I am. 

"And I’ve got to be that times 10 now, because we are going through some things. We did have a bad year. We’ve just got to keep everybody on the same track.”

Smart said he’s bullish on Boston’s outlook moving forward.

"I'm excited. We're excited. As competitors, you have a season like we did last year and it leaves a funny taste in your mouth,” said Smart. "We use that as our motivation and to keep going. We're very excited. Whatever team or whatever people or whoever is on the board or whoever is on this roster with us, we're excited to have them to go out there and fight.”

Smart praised Boston’s quartet of recent draftees, which included a pair of backup point guards in Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters. He said he’s unlikely to meddle in free agency, letting Danny Ainge and his staff handle that, but offered to make a pitch if needed.

Reflecting on last season, Smart hinted that the tensions reported in Boston’s locker room might not have been as catastrophic as suggested. Right after the season, Smart went to bat for Irving when it was suggested he caused much of Boston's issues this season.

"Even in the regular season, it wasn't a disconnect,” said Smart. "It was just a lot of people kind of got in and -- it was like a telephone game. You tell one person this and by the time it gets back to you, the whole narrative had changed. That's kind of how it goes. Like I said, you can only control what you can control. You focus on what you can focus on. As a player, you focus on getting into the gym, getting yourself better and you let the front office handle the front office stuff and you do what it is you need to do for the team."

Still, Smart sounds eager to wipe the slate clean and start a new season.

"Hey, the thing is, the Raptors just won the championship, right? But they’ve got to start back over from the beginning just like we do,” said Smart. "So we all start back over at the starting line, we all start at zero, and we all get a chance to do it. So everybody’s starting over, regardless if they have the same team or not, they’ve all got to start from the beginning. 

"That’s how we take it. We take it as we come in, and we have an opportunity to do something special, and we get another chance to do it.”

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