Over the course of the next calendar year, the Boston Celtics will be forced to thoroughly assess Kyrie Irving’s value to the franchise and its goals.
The Celtics manifested their belief in Irving last summer when they traded for him in a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And with Irving set to become a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season, Boston will have to decide if it still has faith in the star point guard as the face of the organization.
During Thursday’s edition of “First Things First” on FOX Sports 1, co-host Nick Wright examined Irving’s current status with the C’s and where he ranks among the most important pieces to the team’s future.
“How valuable is he to their future? I think they have a handful of pieces more important for what they’re trying to do,” Wright said. “I think Jayson Tatum is more important long term. I think given that there’s less questions about health, Gordon Hayward is more important, and you have him locked in. And they’ve got this (Sacramento) Kings pick that’s unprotected except for No. 1 overall. That could turn into R.J. Barrett, or Zion Williamson or Quentin Grimes. I would put him right beneath that trifecta.”
It’s tough to argue that Tatum isn’t the Celtics’ top asset, as the budding superstar exceeded expectations in his stellar rookie season. Wright’s note about Hayward, however, comes as a bit of a surprise.
Boston does have the luxury of having Hayward under contract for the next three seasons, but given the gruesome nature of the injury that derailed his 2017-18 season, there have to be question remarks surrounding the star forward heading into next season. While Hayward is expected to be fully healed and ready to go, it remains to be seen if he’ll return to being the player he was and continue to progress.
Irving does have a troublesome injury history, but he arguably is the Celtics’ best player when healthy. He also has a plethora of playoff experience and an NBA title to his name, which is worth its weight in gold to a team littered with young and inexperienced players.
If Irving helps lead the C’s to the 2019 NBA Finals, the green likely will do what needs to be done in order to keep him in Boston.
Thumbnail photo via Instagram/Boston Celtics