The Celtics have hit rock bottom in the 2018-19 NBA season having lost three straight games, the most recent to the lowly Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving, who sat on the bench with a thigh injury in the loss to the Nets, has been the most vocal about the Celtics chemistry issues. Most of the blame Irving has dished out centers around Boston’s younger talent including Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier.
The veteran versus young-in feud reached a boiling point last week when Marcus Morris and Brown got into a shoving match on the bench. Meanwhile, Irving has stated time and again that the Celtics need another veteran presence to help with the team’s locker room issues.
Celtics boss Danny Ainge is sure to make a trade before the deadline and the conventional wisdom is that it will be a minor move for the veteran Irving covets. That said, Ainge’s grand scheme involves landing Pelicans big man Anthony Davis in a trade. With all of these issues surrounding Boston it is now a distinct possibility that Ainge decides to cut the snake off at the head and utilize the giant asset that is Irving in a blockbuster for Davis.
The only way the Celtics can trade for Davis before next summer, when they surely will have more competition when it comes to a Davis trade by the way, is to trade Irving before the deadline (per NBA CBA rules). The young guard of the Celtics did just fine in the postseason without Irving last year as they took LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the limit. Irving was not present for the Celtics Game 7 against the Cavs and there were murmurs that he was not totally invested in the Celtics success last year without him. There is a human nature element to all of this. Even Gordon Hayward told Complex Sports that last year while he was injured he didn’t mind seeing the Celtics lose.
Removing Irving from this team’s equation and slotting in Davis would be seen as an upgrade even if the Celtics had to part with Brown as well. Davis is a bon a fide MVP candidate while Irving is widely regarded by league executives as a player on that second tier. He’s a top 20 player for sure, but not a player that could win multiple MVPs like Davis.
A big issue regarding a potential Irving – Davis swap is that there is likely no scenario in which Irving would re-sign with New Orleans. However, the Celtics could look to a third team to help complete a trade. NBA reporter Chris Sheridan proposed a blockbuster this week involving the New York Knicks in which New York would get Irving, the Celtics would get Davis, and the Pelicans would land Kristaps Porzingis and several other pieces from Boston and New York. It should be noted that Sheridan has been on top of all things Davis in the past and has reported that Davis would indeed accept a trade to the Celtics.
As it stands now, the Celtics would have to give up Tatum in a deal for Davis if it did not include Irving. Most Celtics fans would surely rather see Irving go, considering Tatum is a homegrown talent. NBA championship fan bases can’t be choosers, but the feeling in Boston is that it would be nice if one of the key parts to a new dynasty was actually drafted by the Celtics. Irving, Hayward and Al Horford – of course – began their respective careers elsewhere.