The Boston Celtics shouldn’t send the Brinks truck Kyrie Irving’s way.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered that opinion Tuesday on “First Take,” citing the Celtics point guard’s injury record as his primary reason why the team shouldn’t offer him a maximum contract at this point in time. Irving can become a free agent after this season, and has stated his intention to re-sign with Boston. But that only will happen if he and the team agree to contract terms, and Smith isn’t sold on whether Irving deserves a five-year, $190-million-plus deal. Here’s why.
“I wouldn’t give him the money just yet,” Smith said. “… the one thing about Kyrie Irving, and in my estimation the only thing, is his health. I’ve got to know he’s healthy and I’m not worried about anything else. I’ve got to see him get through the season and get through the postseason and look at him health-wise and see if he’s worth that kind of commitment over the next five years if I’m the Boston Celtics.
“Because the one thing that could derail them is if they give Kyrie Irving that kind of money then they’re stuck with him being unhealthy. If he’s healthy, it doesn’t matter, he’s worth every penny because he’s a superstar talent and he’s box-office.”
Irving originally injured his knee during the 2015 NBA Finals and underwent surgery to repair a fracture. He returned from that injury but underwent a March 2018 procedure to remove a wire and screws that caused issues and required a follow-up surgery, which prematurely ended his debut season with the Celtics.
After starting this season slow, he has worked his way into fine form, averaging 23.7 points and 6.9 assists per game in 43 outings. However, he has missed seven of the 50 games Boston has played so far in 2018-19, which probably explains why Smith recommends a wait-and-see approach to contract negotiations.