Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is an unrestricted free agent and recent reports (and the latest betting odds) indicate the Brooklyn Nets are the most likely landing spot for him. So, what exactly is attracting Irving to Brooklyn?
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski provided some insight Tuesday night during a free agency show with colleague Zach Lowe.
“With Kyrie, the reason he has gravitated over time toward Brooklyn is the infrastructure that’s in place there,” Wojnarowski said. “You look at the role players they have. If Kyrie Irving misses 10 games in a season or 12 or 15, he knows Spencer Dinwiddie comes in and starts, and they’re not going to lose all those games. You look at the roster in New York. They would try to bring in some veterans if they signed him and (Kevin Durant). But there’s an infrastructure (in Brooklyn). Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris, players who have shown they can get a team into the playoffs. Management, coach there -- those things have made it more attractive.”
The Celtics have had a lot of these same qualities on their own roster since Irving was acquired before the 2017-18 season. The C's have talented role players who can step up and win games when Irving is unable to play, and we saw that happen in the 2018 playoffs when Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum led Boston to within one victory of the NBA Finals while the star point guard was injured. The Celtics also have a great infrastructure, highlighted by a committed ownership, a smart front office and a talented head coach.
Where the Celtics don't compare with Brooklyn is being able to offer Irving a second superstar to play alongside. The Nets could provide that type of scenario as a result of their salary cap situation. Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant has been linked to the Nets in free agent rumors in recent weeks, and Brooklyn also is the betting favorite to sign him. The Nets can open more than $60 million in cap space if they renounce their rights to restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell.
A Durant-Irving duo on the Nets, along with their other young players, would make them one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference when KD is ready to return from his ruptured Achilles injury in the 2020-21 campaign.
There's certainly some risk in signing Irving after what transpired in Boston this season, but after the years of roster pain the Nets just went through, the gamble is worth it, especially if a top-five player like Durant is coming with him.
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