BOSTON – The domino effect of Kyrie Irving proclaiming his intentions to re-sign with Boston next summer, sent shock waves throughout the NBA landscape.
It is the kind of decision that will impact more than just the Boston Celtics.
Boston is now poised to have its best player in the fold for many years to come, while also having a roster that’s loaded with young, promising, All-Star caliber talent around him.
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But with any decision of this magnitude, there will be others whose future will in some way be affected by Irving’s commitment to Boston.
Here’s a look at five players who will be impacted by Irving’s decision to continue playing for the Celtics beyond the 2018-2019 season.
Earlier this summer, there were reports that Kyrie Irving wanted to play with the same team as Jimmy Butler. Well, that’s unlikely to happen with Irving planning on staying in Boston, and Butler’s future very much up in the air this season as well as going forward, after asking to be traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Other than as all-star teammates, it’s unlikely you’ll see these two donning the same jersey anytime soon. And with Irving making his plans to stay in Boston clear as day, guess who will be at the center of the “Where are you going next year?” questions? Jimmy Butler.
As Kyrie Irving’s backup last season, Rozier did a solid job of filling those minutes when Irving was on the bench and needed a rest. But when Irving was lost for the entire playoff run last season, Rozier elevated his play to a level that makes him one of the more coveted free agents point guards next summer, which puts him in line for a major payday next summer. Boston loves Rozier but may have to let the restricted free agent-to-be walk next summer if he gets what many anticipate will be “starter-like” money from another team. Irving’s decision won’t have any bearing on Rozier for this season, but it does make Rozier’s future in Boston beyond that unclear, at best.
A two-time all-star with the Charlotte Hornets, you get the feeling that the Hornet’s all-time leading scorer might be on his way after this season. Charlotte has drafted a pair of backcourt performers (Malik Monk and Devonte Graham) the past couple of years and added longtime San Antonio Spur Tony Parker. The Hornets seem well stocked in the backcourt going forward, which comes at a time when Walker becomes an unrestricted free agent, which makes him arguably the best scoring point guard among free agents if you take Irving out of the equation. With Irving presumably headed back to Boston next summer, Walker becomes an even more coveted free agent target for other teams, which could make things kind of tricky with the Hornets going forward.
He has been part of three NBA championship teams in the last four years with the Golden State Warriors, having established himself as an all-star as well as one of the better two-way players in the NBA. So why would Klay Thompson ever consider leaving? While it is true that he has been an integral part of why Golden State has been so successful, you have to wonder how comfortable is he in the role of being the team’s third or four-best player? Is he interested in being the leader of his own team, similar to how Kyrie Irving became the face of the Celtics after being in Cleveland where he had to play (and understandably so) second fiddle to LeBron James? So far, Thompson seems more than happy with being part of the league’s best starting five in Golden State. But a change of scenery doesn’t mean you take a significant step back, right? We’ve seen this play out in a favorable way for Irving. Will Thompson take a similar route this summer when he becomes a free agent?
He is the only player on this list who will not be a free agent next summer, but that doesn’t insulate him from being impacted by Irving’s decision. Davis has said all the right things when it comes to New Orleans and its fan base, but the Pelicans have yet to put together a roster that has any sustaining power beyond getting to the playoffs every two or three years. If the Pelicans struggle and Davis gets a wandering eye to take his talents elsewhere, Boston is poised better than ever to be an attractive destination. Irving has committed to being in Boston long-term. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, both promising young players, are potential all-stars sooner rather than later. Boston also has proven all-stars in Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. And as you go up and down the roster, the Celtics have a bevy of assets that, if Davis were to become available, they could potentially package and make a run at Davis via trade. And you can bet when listing the positives about the Celtics franchise, having Irving committed to being here long-term will be one of those factors that can only help Boston in its quest to acquire the right kind of talent to bring Banner 18 home.