A Kyrie Irving & Boston Celtics Divorce Would Be A Good Thing
“The way I viewed the situation is that I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that it was a marriage. And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1. I think that engagement is still on, as far as I know.”
Danny Ainge, February of 2019.
If we’re building on Ainge’s above-stated metaphor, then it’s time for he and the Boston Celtics to call off any such wedding to Kyrie Irving, before it becomes regretfully too late and too costly.
To take Ainge’s metaphor one step further: Kyrie Irving is the attractive female social media influencer whom most guys would dream of landing because of her perceived appeal, irrespective of all her red-flag behaviors being very obvious and visible. And the latter part is why every time she’s been in a relationship, the guys whom she’s dated have little (if any) regret that the relationship ended, having 1) gotten tired of the aforementioned red-flag behaviors, and 2) realized that her sense of self-worth is a lot higher than her actual societal worth.
Take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture. By “leading” the Celtics — a term that feels downright laughable to associate with Irving right now — to a win over the Milwaukee Bucks in this past Eastern Conference Semifinals, Irving could’ve officially cemented himself as one of the league’s 7 true “super-duper stars,” alongside (in no particular order) LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard.
(Note: I love Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic, but I don’t think they officially deserve to be on said list… and Russell Westbrook was thoughtfully and intentionally omitted).
Instead, from Game 2 through Game 5 (the four games won by Milwaukee to complete the “Gentleman’s Sweep”), Irving averaged 19 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 turnovers per game, while shooting 30.1% from the field and 18.5% from three-point range. A field goal percentage under 31% and three-point percentage under 20% is something you’d expect from the shooting-challenged Ben Simmons, not from someone whom we all marvel over as an offensive savant.
Irrespective of the numbers, here’s the truth: Irving has basically played like a glorified Stephon Marbury all season long — flashing prodigious, all-around talent that’s sure to tantalize spectators, while demonstrating literally zero of the intangibles that differentiate the “talented under-achievers” to “organizational transformers.”
Stated more simply: he has all the talent you could possibly desire, and none of the traits you’d want from someone you’d want to build a winning franchise upon.
So as all the talk now shifts to Irving’s pending free agency, it would behoove the Celtics to realize that, economically speaking, Irving is nothing more than a sunk cost, and signing him to the supermax — and effectively letting him run the franchise — would be throwing good money at a bad investment. The argument of “you can’t simply let Irving walk out the door for nothing” is a fallacy as well, considering Boston is in a position to trade Irving for something; they either go all-in (the supermax), or all-out (letting him walk). This is a problem with a binary set of solutions.
While the phrase “addition by subtraction” is a too-often-used cliché in sports, it absolutely applies here. The Boston Celtics aren’t going to be worse if they no longer have Irving on their roster, considering they’re one year removed from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals without Irving (if you’re keeping score at home: that means they went further in the playoffs without Irving than they did with him).
Parting ways Irving removes the black cloud of passive-aggression that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown dealt with all season; without Irving, the franchise can focus on nurturing them as its cornerstones. With one full season under his belt after the gruesome ankle injury, Gordon Hayward will almost certainly be better next year (he already showed brief glimpses of being close to his previous form this past season). Al Horford is almost certainly exercise his player option for the last year of his present deal with Boston, so he’ll be back (and will be at peak motivation next year, to help land his one last major deal before he ages out of the league). After spending this past season totally ruining his mojo, Boston could probably bring back restricted free agent Terry Rozier on a one-year “prove it” deal.
And after all of that, assuming they moved on from Irving, they’d still have enough salary cap space to acquire a near-maximum player, if they so desired.
If Irving’s 95-percent-checked-out effort in Game 5 is a true reflection of his wandering eyes, then a smart partner would be wise to cut their losses and move on immediately. If the Boston Celtics were my friend, I would vehemently advise them against getting into this marriage.
You know how friends console their friends who just had a relationship breakup by saying “you’re better off without [him/her]?” The truth is that the Boston Celtics would be better off without Kyrie Irving.
Then again, as someone who personally despises the Boston Celtics, if they did decide to tie the knot with Irving, when the (metaphorical) officiant declared for people to speak now or forever hold their peace, I would remain stone-cold silent … albeit with a big smile on my face, knowing that he’s exactly the partner who’ll bring nothing but misery and ruin to their spouse.