How will the Boston Celtics respond after their second-round exit at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks?
The Celtics have been a staple in the NBA playoffs — qualifying in six of the last seven seasons — but after bowing out in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this year, the Green haven’t reached the NBA Finals since the 2009-2010 campaign.
Boston entered the 2018-19 season with sky-high expectations, but the season turned out to be a roller coaster with as many high points, as there was low points. Now as the team trudges forward and begins preparations for next season, the team seems to be at a crossroads and facing some major, franchise-altering questions.
Here are some of the Celtics’ most burning questions:
What is Kyrie Irving’s future?
Where the six-time All-Star plays next season has been one of the most interesting and speculated topics during the season. Irving is expected to opt out of his current contract and announced at a season-ticket holder event at TD Garden before the season that he would be resigning with Boston if they would still have him, but it appeared the engagement hit a few snags throughout the season and now prop bets have Irving favored to leave Boston in free agency. The star point guard is sure to have many suitors this off season, but after leading the team in points (23.8) and assists (6.9) per game this past season, Irving should be Danny Ainge’s top priority this July, especially because this could help bring a certain uni-browed superstar to Boston as well.
Can the Celtics land Anthony Davis?
Where will the star forward suit up in 2019? Davis publicly requested to be traded from the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2018-19 season and the sweepstakes for his services are sure to heat up soon. Whatever team is able to swing a deal for the talented big man, will do so with the hopes of resigning him to a long-term deal as Davis currently has only one year left on his deal. Davis reportedly wouldn’t rule out resigning with the C’s if Irving isn’t brought back, but the chances are “significantly lower,” according to The Athletic’s David Aldridge. Boston boasts an abundance of draft picks — including potentially three 2019 first-round picks — and talented players under contract and could make a run for the big man, but it certainly would be better if Irving already was under contract.
How will the team handle remaining free agents, draft?
The Celtics could potentially look completely different next season. Aside from Irving, five-time All-Star Al Horford and Aron Baynes also have player options. Terry Rozier, Brad Wanamaker and Daniel Theis all are restricted free agents, and Marcus Morris is the team’s lone unrestricted free agent. The odds of Ainge bringing back each free agent is slim, especially after Rozier’s blunt reaction after the team’s series-clinching loss against the Bucks. Boston will have to figure who to bring back, while also considering the fact that the team potentially could have up to three first-round picks in June’s NBA Draft, unless of course they trade the picks.
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