Celtics

Would Kelly Olynyk still be with Celtics if Gordon Hayward joined Heat instead?

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Would Kelly Olynyk still be with Celtics if Gordon Hayward joined Heat instead?

Kelly Olynyk was the hero for the Boston Celtics in their Game 7 win to eliminate the Washington Wizards in the 2017 Eastern Conference semifinals. Two months later, he was taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat.

Olynyk might still be a Celtic if Gordon Hayward, who met with the Heat in free agency in the summer of 2017, decided to pass on the Celtics and join Pat Riley's roster instead.

"I mean, who knows where any of us would be right now otherwise?" Olynyk told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman ahead of Thursday night's Celtics vs. Heat matchup in Miami. 

Olynyk was a restricted free agent that summer as his rookie contract expired. The Heat offered him a four-year, $50 million offer sheet, and he wisely accepted. The Celtics, understandbly, weren't going to match that after agreeing to a max contract with Hayward.

"I don't even know if the Heat would have offered me an offer sheet," Olynyk said, per Winderman. "So you never know what happened. If he didn't sign there, maybe I would be back in Boston now."

It's really impossible to say with any certainty if Olynyk would still be with the Celtics right now had Hayward gone elsewhere. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge turned over nearly his entire 2016-17 roster, headlined by the blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that included swapping point guards Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving. Ainge isn't afraid to trade anyone if it's going to make his team better.

Olynyk was a solid player for Boston, but it's probably for the best he moved on. He's currently averaging 9.7 points per game and shooting just 33.7 percent from 3-point range. The Celtics have a lot of decisions to make in free agency over the next few years, and not having Olynyk's $12-plus million salary cap hit on the books is helpful. The Celtics gave Marcus Smart a very similar four-year contract in July, and he provides much more value than Olynyk.

Olynyk will be squaring off against Hayward as a Celtic for the first time Thursday night. Hayward, of course, missed all the Celtics-Heat meetings last season due to injury. It should provide Olynyk with extra motivation to play well, and improve on his 17.3 points per game average against the C's from last year.

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Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was critical of the team's younger players after a recent loss to the Orlando Magic, and one Celtic legend thinks the veteran point guard's comments were justified. 

Paul Pierce, who spent 15 years with the Celtics and helped deliver Boston a championship in 2008, explained Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump" why he had no issues with Irving's comments. 

“However he has to do it to wake them up,” Pierce said. “Kyrie understands what it takes to win a championship, so he’s trying to show them there’s an everyday process to this.

“When I won a championship and we came back the next year, it was like, ‘don’t get bored with the process’ or ‘understand what the process is.’ And that’s what he’s trying to teach them. And that’s why they’re inconsistent, because they don’t understand that. It doesn’t start just on the court during games. It’s in practice, it’s the little things … It’s the little things that they have to follow — the details that it’s going to take for them to win a championship, and Kyrie’s trying to show them that.”

The Celtics have not met expectations so far this season and enter Wednesday's showdown against the Toronto Raptors with a 25-17 record. A lot of the frustration involving this team stems from its inconsistency. The C's have lost three consecutive games, but won four straight games before that. An eight-game win streak in December was followed by a three-game skid.

The Celtics' season ultimately will be judged on their playoff run, but they won't enjoy much success in April, May or June unless they find an identity and every player buys in. Irving, as one of the most experienced players on the team and one of two Celtics with a championship ring, is the right man to lead that process.

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Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

We'll say one thing about the 2018-19 Boston Celtics: They're not afraid to speak their minds.

Kyrie Irving certainly did so Saturday night when he seemed to call out the Celtics' young players after a loss to the Orlando Magic. We've since heard from a few of those young players, with Jayson Tatum endorsing Irving's message and Jaylen Brown perhaps suggesting Kyrie tone it down a bit.

Following Monday's loss to the Nets in Brooklyn, Irving's backup, Terry Rozier, chimed in.

“Kyrie said a lot after the last game (against Orlando) and it was probably stuff that people didn’t want to hear," Rozier told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill. “But it’s showing.”

The 24-year-old also admitted it's been a challenge for players like himself, Tatum and Brown to adapt to roles that were larger late last season when Irving and Gordon Hayward were out due to injury, even suggesting the Celtics could be "too talented."

"I don’t think we’ve all been on a team like this," Rozier said. "Young guys who can play, guys who did things in their career, the group that was together last year, then you bring Kyrie and Hayward back, it’s a lot with it."

And if you ask Rozier, the impromptu meetings (led mostly by Irving) to iron out these issues haven't always been beneficial.

"I feel like we have them talks throughout the season, but it didn’t turn out that good," Rozier added. "You see guys get into it with each other, but that’s part of the game. You gotta be real with each other."

The Celtics still have time to figure things out, of course. Rozier admitted the Celtics needed to hear Irving's critique, which the All-Star point guard actually walked back before Monday's game in Brooklyn.

"Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again," Irving told ESPN.com's Ian Begley. "I just want to win so bad."

Boston hasn't done much winning of late, falling to seven games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors after their third straight loss. But now would be a good time to start: The C's play seven of their next eight games at home, starting Wednesday against the Raptors.

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