By Jordan Zuniga
For the second time in the past three years, Kyrie Irving wants out of the best team in the East. That’s because Irving doesn’t care if the team on the front of his jersey wins, Irving only cares if Irving wins.
This time last year, Irving declared out of nowhere that he wanted a trade away from the Cleveland Cavaliers after their third-straight finals appearance. He wanted off of a team that had made him into an NBA superstar and away from the player, LeBron James, who had made him a household name in Cleveland. Irving would have just been another Carmelo Anthony had it not been for James.
So then Irving gets traded to the Boston Celtics, easily the best young team in the NBA with one of the best coaches in the league. In 60 games, Irving dropped 24. 4 points per game with 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. His team was one win away from making the NBA Finals, despite Irving and arguably the second-best player on the team, Gordon Hayward, not even stepping on the court in the playoffs.
Now Irving wants out of that situation?
If I’m heading the Celtics, I give Irving up to the highest bidder without batting an eye.
Maybe the Celtics were better with Irving on the floor last year, but Boston arguably has the two best players under 22 in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum; whatever scoring they lose from Irving they are sure to gain back in the development of those two young players. That isn’t even factoring in what the Celtics get if Hayward returns to his pre-injury form.
And what about point guard? The Celtics have a solid one-two punch with Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier to hold down that position, and they proved their prowess in the playoffs last year.
In the 19 games that Rozier started in the playoffs, he averaged 16.5 points with 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals. Sure, he scored almost 8 fewer points than Irving, but he handed out more assists and made it possible for other players to score.
All this to say, the Celtics don’t really gain a whole lot by keeping Irving for this season; they should make the Finals pretty easily, because the 76ers have showen they still have a long way to catch Boston.
The big win for the Celtics is that they will rid themselves of a me-first player who appears to be more worried about his own stat line than whether his team wins or loses.
One reason it was rumored he left Cleveland was because he wasn’t the focal point of the team. It’s clear he took a good look at Tatum’s play last year and saw his days of being the best player on the Celtics are numbered.
And so he wants out again, and why should the Celtics bother trying to persuade him to stay? They’re going to need that cap space for players who could turn out to be far better than Irving in the long run.
The Celtics simply don’t need Irving, and the team chemistry will probably be better without him this season. So Boston should trade him to the highest bidder, even if that highest bidder only offers a bag of chips.