There are two alleged doomsday scenarios for the Celtics in the coming months. The first is that Kyrie Irving walks out the door in July and the Celtics are left scrambling. The second is that the Celtics land Anthony Davis in a trade but Davis walks out the door in 2020 after the Celtics traded away the likes of Jayson Tatum and potentially more.
The first scenario here though should be a lot easier to swallow for Celtics fans. If Irving leaves the Celtics for the Knicks, Boston could use a sizable chunk of that leftover money to go after a top free agent like Charlotte’s Kemba Walker. Walker is the Knicks’ backup plan if Irving stays in Boston or flees to the Lakers but he might not be that big of big of a drop-off from Uncle Drew.
His numbers are slightly better than Irving’s and Walker has had a reputation since his National Championship winning days at UConn as being a fantastic leader and teammate.
The Celtics would still have to maneuver money to fit Walker under the cap but it can be done. No doubt, the Celtics’ least risky course of action over the next two years is to simply keep Tatum and Jaylen Brown and to use the draft picks coming to them to – ya know – actually draft players.
Danny Ainge is not the reactionary type so he won’t panic if Irving does indeed leave. The Celtics would be OK with running Tatum, Brown, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward et al back next season. Given the uncertainties surrounding the Raptors and Warriors futures, that group alone would be in the mix for an NBA title.
Still, Walker might be the man left out to dry in free agency if the Knicks scoop up Kevin Durant and Irving. It’s a situation the Celtics will certainly be monitoring.