The Boston Celtics are currently two wins away from an unexpected NBA Finals appearance. Unexpected, at least, in context of the season they’ve gone through. Their two massive off-season acquisitions—Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving—have missed significant time, and are out for the playoffs.
Entering the year, the Celtics were a trendy pick to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers and make the finals, though LeBron James and company were still the favorite in the eyes of many, if not most. In the season opener, coincidentally between those two teams, Hayward went down for the season with a gruesome leg injury just minutes into his Celtics debut. He’s been out since.
Kyrie Irving played 60 games this year. He went down with knee surgery which originally had an expected recovery of 3-6 weeks. Instead, he was shut down for the season.
Now, without two guys who were assumed to be the top players on the team, Boston has Cleveland down 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics also have home court advantage in a series that could go seven games.
With Kyrie Irving out, Celtics backcourt players like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have thrived.
As we near the off-season, most seem to think Boston will have to move on from one of those two guys. However, there are some who think that the team is playing so well, that the C’s should at least consider shopping Irving.
Given his injury history, and the way the team handled Isaiah Thomas last year, the franchise is not above being super pragmatic. However, Irving has proven to be one of the best offensive players in the NBA, and looked to be an improved defender and all-around player under Brad Stevens’ tutelage.
At least one prominent ESPN personality is buying into the notion, though. During pregame of tonight’s Game Four, Jalen Rose floated the idea that Irving might not want the C’s to win the title with him on the bench.
Jalen just said he thinks that Kyrie hopes the Celtics don’t win the title without him because it would mean he would get traded
— Jack (@Jack_Michael17) May 22, 2018
The East is so weak that Jalen is on ESPN talking about how the Celtics might consider trading Kyrie to re-sign Rozier, Jaylen and Taytum. This is perfect. It’s happening. Torn to pieces!
— Lavar Kuzma (@GotEm_Coach) May 22, 2018
Jalen Rose suggesting trading Kyrie to keep Rozier and Smart ? pic.twitter.com/wBuCN59I4m
— Shake4ndbake (@ItsShake4ndbake) May 22, 2018
Jalen Rose with about one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. He says Kyrie Irving is rooting against the Celtics beating the Cavs and going on to win the NBA title.
— andy roth (@arhooptalk) May 22, 2018
That definitely comes off as a certified hot take. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Celtics at least considered a move, given the chemistry developing with the young backcourt players, and Irving’s injury history.
Still, one has to think the Celtics’ ultimate ceiling, and championship potential, is much higher with Irving. He’s gone toe-to-toe with Steph Curry and the Warriors before, and beating them, not LeBron’s Cavs, is the ultimate goal.