Celtics

NBA rumors: Celtics' Kyrie Irving 'prepared to sign' with Nets as free agent

NBA rumors: Celtics' Kyrie Irving 'prepared to sign' with Nets as free agent

Kyrie Irving's future is one of the biggest storylines as NBA free agency nears, and recent reports suggest the Brooklyn Nets are the most likely destination for the superstar point guard.

The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett reported Thursday that Irving is "prepared to sign" with the Nets.

According to a source with ties to Roc Nation, the organization expected to become Irving’s new representative, the All-Star point guard is prepared to sign with the Brooklyn Nets when he becomes a free agent next month. A separate league source told the Herald that his team (not the Celtics) has received the same information and is operating under the belief that Irving wants to join the Nets.

Word is that the Celtics, meanwhile, had not been given any definitive indication from Irving as of Thursday afternoon.

Rumors linking Irving to the Nets have been surfacing fairly regularly over the last few weeks. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Irving is 'intensely interested" in joining the Nets. Nothing can become official until July, and Irving often is a tough guy to figure out, but the Nets do have cap space and the need for a marquee player. Let's not forget Irving is from New Jersey and Brooklyn would be close to home.

“The longer this thing draws out, it’s becoming clear that being close to home, being around family, being all those things that I think a lot of players factor in but they don’t necessarily rise to the top -- I think he’s putting a lot of stock in that," NBC Sports Boston's Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakely said on Thursday's "Early Edition." "Brooklyn, to me, it's one of those careful-what-you-ask-for situations. I look at that roster, and they look a lot like the Celtics from this past year. A team that is on the rise, a team that’s had some success. Guys had roles that they anticipate will be expanded upon this year.”

We've come a long way from Irving telling Celtics season ticket holders in October "If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."

The Celtics entered last season with championship expectations, but they endured a rocky road to the No. 4 seed and were bounced in the second round of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Losing a player of Irving's caliber without compensation certainly would be a blow to the Celtics' roster, even if he was to blame for some of the team chemistry problems that plagued the club. The Celtics did not give up much to acquire Irving via trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers before the 2017-18 campaign, but he is one of the top 15 players in the league and one of the sport's best scorers. He's coming off a strong statistical season in which he averaged 23.8 points, a career-high 6.9 assists and shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range.

If Irving does sign with the Nets, or any team not named the Celtics, his first game back at TD Garden is going to be a must-watch event.

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Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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