NBA Executive Explains 2018-19 Celtics’ Struggles With Intriguing Theory


Jul 17, 2019

Was money the root of the Boston Celtics’ ailments last season?

An anonymous NBA executive suggested in a feature Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher published Tuesday that salary disparity might have caused the chemistry problems that plagued the 2018-19 Celtics. The executive theorized young players who helped Boston come within one game of the 2018 NBA Finals were annoyed at having to defer the following season to better-compensated teammates, who missed that playoff run.

“In that situation you have Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier making names for themselves and hadn’t got paid yet,” the player-turned-executive told Bucher. “They got a taste of the Eastern Conference Finals, they go seven games, and all of a sudden Kyrie and Gordon Hayward are back the next year and everything changes. It’s a tricky situation.”

Hayward and Irving earned $31 million-plus and $20 million-plus last season, respectively, while Brown, Tatum and Rozier earned more modest salaries per terms of their rookie contracts.

Many suspected the Celtics had chemistry problems during the season, and Rozier’s eruption of frustration following the Boston’s exit from the 2019 playoffs brought them into full view.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens admitted to ESPN last month he struggled to satisfy the on-court demands of his talented players, and any money-related animosity only would make the team’s existing problems worse.

The Celtics have made a number of offseason transactions with hopes of putting last season behind them and progressing toward a brighter future. While the full story of Boston’s disappointing 2018-19 season has yet to be told, any lessons the campaign offers the team ultimately will be valuable in the future.

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