The weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline have been heating up, blockbuster trades, trade requests and ambiguous quotes are coming out left, right and centre. One of the main players in this rumour mill is Kyrie Irving.
Irving, no stranger to speaking to the media, was recently quoted as saying “I don’t owe anybody sh**” in reference to re-signing with his current team, the Boston Celtics. This adds another chapter to the already confusing Kyrie-Boston conundrum. Will he stay or won’t he? Irving’s quest to become “the man” at Boston seemed in jeopardy when the team took LeBron James and the Cavs to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year without him. Juxtapose this to when LeBron was ever missing from the Cavaliers (they’d fall apart). You can’t help think that an ego as fragile as Kyrie’s was damaged by this.
Since then, things have not improved for the Celtics or Kyrie. The Celtics poor play on the court has resulted in them being 5th place in the Eastern Conference. A far cry from where many predicted them to be. Starlets Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have seemingly regressed. The return of star Gordon Hayward has been largely disappointing. The former All-Star is currently averaging 10 points per game off the bench following his return from a gruesome leg injury suffered in the opening game of the 2017/18 season.
During this strenuous period for the Celtics, Kyrie has not helped things with his hypocritical statements and ill-conceived actions. In October, Irving addressed TD Garden saying “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
Since then Kyrie has passive-aggressively criticised his fellow young teammates. Following a loss to the Orlando Magic, in which Kyrie was seen visibly upset with his teammates after not being given the ball on the final play of the game, the All-Star was quoted “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team”.
Immediately following this tantrum of sorts, the ex-Cavalier reconciled with ex-teammate LeBron James over a phone call. Irving felt the need to apologise to James for not realising how “difficult” it was leading a young team. A team that got the Eastern Conference Finals without him.
With all this being said, Kyrie Irving has three realistic destinations this summer.
New York Knicks
The Knicks recently made the odd decision to trade franchise player Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The reason being was obviously to clear up future cap space in order to land a player of Kyrie’s calibre.
Despite a less than ideal front office, the Knicks are always a tempting destination for an NBA player. One of the NBA’s most storied franchises, the Knicks also boast playing their home games at the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks also have the option to sign another marquee free agent in the summer. Whether that be Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker or Klay Thompson. New York has been crying out for a basketball hero to claim as their own since Patrick Ewing. If Kyrie could bestow glory upon the holy land of basketball then he would finally be worthy of being “the man”.
Los Angeles Lakers
What exactly was discussed between Kyrie and LeBron during their phone call is still unknown. It could have been a heartfelt reconciliation between two friends and ex-teammates. Or, it could have laid the groundwork for Kyrie’s path to reuniting with the greatest of all time in the City of Angels.
The Lakers appear to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to acquiring marquee players. At the time of writing, the Lakers are in talks to acquire All-Star big man Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. A starting five of Irving, Josh Hart, LeBron, Kyle Kuzma and Davis is capable of beating any NBA team. Even the invincible Warriors.
Remaining in Boston
Perhaps the most realistic option, the relationship between Kyrie and the Celtics is not akin to that of Davis and the Pelicans. The Celtics have an amazingly talented young team and young head coach.
The struggles they are going through now will only help strengthen them going forward. Irving himself declared in emphatic style that Boston was his city, after draining a dagger three pointer against the Toronto Raptors.
This season has not panned out the way Kyrie Irving, Celtic fans and NBA watchers thought it would for Boston. If Kyrie can keep his mouth shut and stop talking to the media and play ball like we know we can, things will turn around for the Celtics. They can beat anyone in the Eastern Conference.
As Irving heads into the most dynamic and uncertain few months the NBA has arguably ever seen, we follow him, waiting with bated breath.