Celtics

League execs, like fans, have lots of thoughts on Kyrie's future in Boston

League execs, like fans, have lots of thoughts on Kyrie's future in Boston

CHICAGO -- Like Celtics fans, the opinions about Kyrie Irving among league executives and scouts run the gamut.

But when it comes to Irving’s future in Boston, the overwhelming majority believe he’ll be taking his talents elsewhere next season.

A six-time All-Star, Irving will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

While Boston has indicated it wants to re-sign Irving, it is unclear if the feeling is mutual with Irving being linked with a number of teams led by the New York Knicks.

By signing somewhere besides Boston, Irving would be walking away from about $80 million.

But according to multiple league officials, that doesn’t matter.

“If you think the money he’s going to leave on the table by going somewhere else besides Boston is going to be an issue, you don’t know Kyrie,” one Eastern Conference General Manager told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s a different kind of guy; and a lot of the stuff that you would think would be an issue for him, he could care less about.”

A different league executive pointed out how the talk about Irving and issues with the media won’t be a factor, either.

“He’s thinking about playing for the Knicks, and we all know how big a (media) circus show that can be,” the second league official said.

Despite most of those spoken to indicating they anticipate Irving will play somewhere besides Boston next season, there were a couple of league officials who are convinced that when all is said and done, Irving will sign a long-term deal with Boston.

“He’s playing all of you guys right now,” a front-office official with a Western Conference team told NBC Sports on Thursday. “Say what you want about his leadership and all that nonsense, but the one thing we know about Kyrie is he will do what is best for Kyrie. The money, chance to win a title sooner rather than later, have his own team … all that stuff matters and when he looks at all the different options he’ll have, I think he’ll have one of those, “what the hell was I thinking?” moments and go back to Boston.”

An NBA scout who has followed Irving dating to his days at Duke agrees.

“I know this season didn’t end the way Kyrie or the Celtics wanted,” the scout said. “But when you look at what went wrong for them, it’s easy to blame Kyrie because he didn’t shoot the ball well. But when you hear what others are saying afterwards, Brad (Stevens) saying he did a bad job, players talking about how they sacrificed this and that … it’s pretty obvious that they had a lot of issues going on that were bigger than just one player, even a player as good as Kyrie.

The scout added, “I think he comes back and he comes back with an attitude; a little edgier with not just his words but his play.”

All agreed that the addition of Anthony Davis via trade would bode well for their chances of re-signing Irving, most believing the Celtics have to do that before they can officially get Irving back into the fold.

“Obviously they want Anthony Davis. Hell, we all want Anthony Davis,” a Western Conference front-office official said. “But even if they strike out on getting him, they still have to make changes. If they’re going to go all-in on Kyrie, they have to build this team around him with guys who can complement more than the last year’s team.”

And while all those spoken to by NBC Sports Boston had their own rationale for what they believe will be Irving’s fate, the one thing they were unanimous on is that there will be changes made to Boston’s roster next season.

But will those changes include Kyrie Irving?

Stay tuned …

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.

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

webp.net-resizeimage_1.jpg
AP photo

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

The Boston Celtics had their 10-game win streak snapped on Sunday as they fell to the Sacramento Kings, 100-99.

It came down to the final buzzer as Marcus Smart's last-second floater hung on the rim, but failed to fall into the basket.

Here are three instant overreactions from the loss, which brings the C's to 10-2 on the season:

1. The C's are starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics have looked out of sync offensively in their last couple of games. Friday night's close call vs. the lowly Golden State Warriors left plenty to be desired, and their struggles in Sunday's loss didn't do much to inspire confidence either as they turned the ball over 14 times.

If we see one or two more lackluster performances like this on the West Coast road trip, it may be time to start counting down the days until Hayward's return. But for now, I'm willing to give the C's talented offensive unit the benefit of the doubt.

2. Jaylen Brown and Buddy Hield both are showing they're worth every penny.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Once again, he was one of Boston's standout performers on the offensive side and is backing up his statement about his game improving.

As for Hield, he continues to reward the Kings for signing him to a four-year, $86 million contract extension last month. The Celtics simply had no answer for the Indiana product, who dropped 35 points while going 7-for-12 in 3-pointers. Hield also drilled a key 3 late in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento come out on top.

3. Semi Ojeleye is the new Steph Curry.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

OK, fine, it may be a SLIGHT overreaction. Still, Ojeleye surprised everyone by going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and tallying 11 points off the bench. He was one of the bright spots in the Celtics' disappointing loss.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

So. Close. 

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning floater as time expired hit seemingly every part of the rim, paused for a moment before rolling out as time expired in Boston’s 100-99 loss to Sacramento. 

‘It was a good look in that moment,” Boston’s Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. 

The loss snapped Boston’s 10-game winning streak, in addition to preventing them from being the first team in NBA history to win 11 in a row after dropping the season opener.

Sacramento (5-7), after dropping their first five games this season, have now won five of their last seven with the lone losses being a road game at defending NBA champion Toronto and a controversial defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.  

After spending most of the first half playing catch-up, the Celtics — in all-too predictable form — swung the game’s momentum in their favor in the third quarter to take a 75-71 lead into the fourth quarter despite the offensive fireworks put on by Sacramento’s Buddy Hield (game-high 35 points). 

In the fourth, Boston’s slim lead didn’t last long with the Kings tying the game at 75 less than a minute into the quarter, only for Carsen Edwards to drain a 3-pointer to put Boston back on top, 78-75.

Things remained close for the rest of the game before Smart’s potential game-winner rolled out as time expired.  

Here are some takeaways from Boston’s one-point loss at Sacramento.

KEMBA IN THE FOURTH QUARTER

We have come to expect the best from Kemba Walker when the game matters most: the fourth quarter. That was not the case on Sunday, with Walker going scoreless in the fourth quarter to finish with just 15 points. You certainly love the season-high nine assists he tallied, but Walker’s greatest impact on this team night-in, night-out is his scoring down the stretch.

BUDDY HIELD 

The Kings gave Hield a four-year contract extension worth as much as $106 million, and he showed on Sunday why he's worth every penny. Time and time again, he came up with one big shot after another while often being draped by Boston's best perimeter defender — and one of the best in the NBA — Marcus Smart.  Hield led all scorers with 35 points on an efficient 14-for-24 shooting performance from the field.

TURNOVERS

One of the biggest keys to the Celtics’ fast start to the season has been their ability to limit their mistakes. They came into Sunday’s game averaging a league-low 11.7 per game. On Sunday, the Celtics committed 12 of their 15 turnovers in the first half alone.

SEMI (OJELEYE) AUTOMATIC

Ojeleye hit a big 3-pointer in the second quarter, capping off a 7-0 Celtics run to bring Boston within four points (36-32) with 6:30 to play in the first half. He would finish the day with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field, including a career-high-tying three 3-pointers. It was indeed a breakout scoring game for Ojeleye who came into Sunday’s game having scored just 14 points in Boston’s 11 games this season. 

THEIS IS NICE

While his play doesn’t necessarily find a home on the Celtics’ highlight reel, there’s no getting around the impact that Daniel Theis continues to make on this team. Usually he does it by excelling at intangibles such as setting screens, boxing out and rolling to the basket. But on Sunday, Theis’s impact was made in the more traditional sense: getting points. He finished with a season-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double this season. It was also the second time in the last three games Theis has reached double figures scoring. 

LINE ‘EM UP

The Celtics did not shoot the ball well against the Kings, but their aggressive play offensively led to a number of trips to the free throw line, which was a huge difference-maker in the game’s outcome. For the game, the Celtics were 21-for-24 from the line, compared to the Kings who were just 10-for-12 at the free throw line, which included Richaun Holmes’ game-winning free throws with 13.3 seconds to play. 

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared for Red Claws Sunday>>>>>

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.