The Celtics made it further this year than anyone expected them to. They were decimated by injuries from the opening minutes of the season but still came incredibly close to making the NBA Finals. If George Hill or Jeff Green make one or two less shots than they did, the Celtics win that Game 7 and are playing the Warriors right now.
The bigger hypothetical concerns how Brad Stevens’ team would have done if they had Kyrie Irving and/or Gordon Hayward available. They probably would’ve beaten the Cavaliers, and they probably would’ve put up a better fight against Golden State than Cleveland is doing right now.
We all know that Danny Ainge loves to wheel and deal, but there isn’t a need to make a major trade this summer like there was last summer. The Celtics have all the pieces they need to complete the puzzle that is winning a title. They just need a couple of those pieces to spend some more time drying after having been broken and glued back together.
Hayward in Boston is still an unknown entity. He was injured so early in the season that it feels like he hasn’t even made his debut for the team. Kyrie, on the other hand, had plenty of chances to show his stuff. We know what he can do, but he hasn’t played since March and recency bias is starting to take effect.
Some Celtics fans and people around the league are floating the idea that Ainge should trade Kyrie Irving this offseason because the team made it so far without him. Have you ever heard such a terrible suggestion?
Terry Rozier has been one of the best stories in the NBA this season. Ainge was mocked for drafting him, and then Rozier’s first couple years in the league were hardly anything special. But he improved drastically during the course of this campaign and really seized his opportunity when Irving went down with a knee injury.
Terry’s play has been very impressive, but he is still not as good as Kyrie Irving! I can’t believe I even have to say that.
This is the same Kyrie Irving who outplayed Steph Curry for large portions of the past few NBA Finals. This is the same Kyrie Irving who can somehow contort himself to dribble through three big men and then shift once more to finish at the rim. He isn’t some bit part that should be casually thrown into trade discussions. He is a future Hall of Famer who is now the cornerstone of this franchise.
Next year will be Kyrie’s second year in Brad Stevens’ system. He’ll be more familiar with the way the Celtics want to play, and he’ll be more familiar with his teammates. As the Celtics went on their postseason run, Kyrie was often on the bench cheering on his squad. He wouldn’t say as much, but how far do you think he expected this team to go without him? The only positive of him being out injured is that he will now see that young guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can hold their own in big game situations, even without their star point-guard. Kyrie sees that he has a team of Championship caliber players that he can trust. That should make every Celtics fan incredibly excited for next season when he’s back in green.
Even Rozier would tell you that trading Kyrie is a bad idea. “Scary Terry” has been doing a media tour lately and has constantly reiterated that he is happy being the backup to Kyrie. “You know, obviously Kyrie Irving is Kyrie Irving,” he told Mass Live. “He’s the starter. He’s our starter. He’s our starting point guard.”
Terry Rozier hasn’t forgotten how good Kyrie Irving is, we shouldn’t either.