Celtics

Kyrie Irving to join LeBron James, Lakers? 'No way in hell', source tells Stephen A. Smith

Kyrie Irving to join LeBron James, Lakers? 'No way in hell', source tells Stephen A. Smith

Talk of a potential reunion between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers picked up steam over the weekend when ESPN's Brian Windhorst recently said on his podcast, "Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective", that the Boston Celtics guard "has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers."

Irving and James were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers for three seasons and reached the NBA Finals in each of those campaigns, including the franchise's first ever championship in 2016.

The C's guard wanted out of Cleveland before the 2017-18 season and not wanting to play with James was among the reported reasons for his trade request. Irving talked during this past season about apologizing to James for the way things transpired during their time together in Cleveland, and that led some people to believe a reunion actually was possible.

However, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed during Monday's episode of "First Take" a text exchange he had with people close to Irving's family, and they were emphatic that an Irving-James partnership in Los Angeles isn't going to happen.

"From what I'm told, it's not going to happen," Smith said. "I got a text message from folks close to Kyrie's family, within the hour, as we were teasing this subject. Quote: 'There is no way in hell he's going to LA. I don't give a damn what anybody says, knock that down for us right now please. He ain't going to LA.' That's what they say.

Smith tweeted Saturday that from what he's heard, there's a 95 percent chance Irving and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant are planning on going to the New York Knicks in NBA free agency this summer. He re-iterated that point Monday on "First Take."

"From everything that I've been hearing over the last few days, Kyrie Irving is heading to New York City," Smith said. "Kyrie Irving is heading to Madison Square Garden with Kevin Durant. People in his inner circle are trying to bring the Nets into the mix, but clearly New York is the destination. The likelihood is it will be MSG."

Irving struggled in the playoffs for the Celtics, who saw their 2019 playoff run ended in disappointing fashion in a five-game second-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Despite his struggles at the end of the season for Boston, Knicks fans almost certainly would welcome Irving to New York City with open arms. The Knicks franchise hasn't won a title since 1973, it's made only two NBA Finals appearances (1994 and 1999) since that championship, and it has reached the playoffs just four times in the last 18 seasons (and not once since 2013). Irving also grew up in New Jersey, so he has a local connection to basketball in the Big Apple. 

Irving did not go into detail when asked about his upcoming free agency after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs last week, and it's possible he still hasn't made up his mind. The Celtics should try everything to re-sign him, but it appears they will have plenty of competition, which is to be expected when talking about a player of Irving's caliber.

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Haberstroh: Anthony Davis to Lakers is a 'crushing blow' to Celtics

Haberstroh: Anthony Davis to Lakers is a 'crushing blow' to Celtics

Did the Celtics make a mistake by not overwhelming the Pelicans with an offer for Anthony Davis?

The C's reportedly refused to include forward Jayson Tatum in a deal, so New Orleans opted to roll with the Lakers' lucrative trade package instead. Davis probably would have only been a one-year rental with Boston, but NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh still believes their failure to acquire Davis is a "crushing blow."

Here's why:

As for the outside teams looking in, this is a crushing blow to the Boston Celtics, who might lose Irving now that Davis is heading West. The Celtics have long believed that trading for Davis would be the best chance in keeping Irving long-term, sources say. But now they’re looking at a revamped 2018 playoff redux with Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way with Gordon Hayward back in the driver’s seat.

Assuming Irving doesn't re-sign -- a fair assumption given the Nets rumors flying around -- the Celtics will have to find a way to build around Tatum and Jaylen Brown while hoping Gordon Hayward returns to being Gordon Hayward.

Irving's free agency isn't the only murky situation right now for the C's. Al Horford's contract situation remains up in the air as well, as the veteran big man reportedly remains undecided on his player option for next season.

Time will tell whether the Celtics' decision to not pull the trigger on a Davis trade will be a regrettable one. For now, it'll be interesting to see what Danny Ainge has up his sleeve for a backup plan.

Clint Capela, anyone?

>> Read Haberstroh's full column on the Davis deal here

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Report: Celtics intrigued by Clint Capela, but haven't had any trade talks with Rockets

Report: Celtics intrigued by Clint Capela, but haven't had any trade talks with Rockets

Despite earlier reports indicating that the Celtics engaged the Rockets on trade talks involving Clint Capela, Adam Himmelsbach reported Saturday that while the Celtics are intrigued by the center, they have not talked to Houston about a trade. 

Steve Kyler suggested the Celtics viewed Capela as a backup plan if the Anthony Davis trade fell through, and even though Davis is officially heading to the Lakers, it appears the Celtics aren't as interested as we originally thought. 

There have been reports that the Celtics have had trade talks with the Rockets about their talented young center, Clint Capela, who has four years left on his five-year, $90 million deal. A league source said Saturday that the Celtics are intrigued by Capela, but that the sides have not had any trade talks and that a deal for Capela is unlikely because Boston would not have interest in surrendering the players needed to complete the trade.

Capela is due $16.4 million next season, so for the Celtics to match salary in a deal, they'd have to include a combination of Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, or have Al Horford opt-in and trade his $30.1 million salary for Capela and a player like Eric Gordon.

These are not the only possibilities for a trade, but it's difficult to construct a deal where Boston isn't giving up the same young pieces it seemingly withheld in Davis negotiations. 

Al Horford is reportedly undecided on whether to pick up his player option to return to the Celtics or enter free agency, so Capela discussions could pick up in the coming weeks or die completely once Boston gets a better idea of where their veteran center stands. 

Now that the Davis trade is out of the way, more dominos are free to fall as the NBA undergoes its most uncertain offseason in recent memory.  

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