Thought the NBA offseason was wild? Get ready for the 2019-20 campaign.
Several high-profile players changed teams this summer, completely altering the NBA landscape and making the league as unpredictable as it’s been in years. This should make for an eventful season, which came into focus a bit Monday when the NBA released its schedule.
Some of the most highly anticipated matchups this season center around superstars facing their former teams. While Stephen A. Smith is most excited about Lakers big man Anthony Davis returning to New Orleans to play the Pelicans for the first time since getting traded to Los Angeles, Max Kellerman explained Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take” why he can’t wait for Kyrie Irving to return to TD Garden to face the Boston Celtics as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
“The best (return) is Kyrie going back to Boston. That’s the best one,” Kellerman said. “First of all, you have to think about the entirety of the situation. Boston is really a huge market, because we’re not just talking about Boston. Like when you look at the size of Boston, how can that compete with New York and other areas like that? It’s because Boston really means from Connecticut to Maine. It’s practically the entire Northeast, north of certain parts of Connecticut. That entire region — which by the way is basketball crazy, and the Celtics have this incredible tradition and still is a powerhouse team — is gonna be watching this. Plus, this whole, all of New York, the greater Metropolitan area, right? Where Kyrie wanted to come back. The Nets are a team — as you would say, Stephen A. — on the come-up. The Celtics were thought to be a team that could challenge for a title last season but underachieved, and many people, including me, blamed Kyrie. So think of the drama and the amount of attention and just the number of people interested in this. And then think about what might actually happen.
“I think the Celtics can be very good this year. I think they’re gonna surprise people. But clearly, the Nets on the come-up — you add Kyrie — should get better. So it should be a competitive, exciting game. And then think of the kind of show Kyrie puts on. He is maybe the best show in the NBA. I think when you add it all up, it doesn’t get better than Kyrie’s return to Boston.”
Irving, of course, has shouldered much of the blame for Boston’s troubles in 2018-19, one season after the Celtics came within one win of reaching the NBA Finals while the All-Star point guard was sidelined with an injury. Boston’s young players regressed, to some extent, and chemistry issues ultimately contributed to the C’s falling far short of their championship aspirations.
The backlash has been compounded by Irving declaring last October that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics, only to then turn around and join the Nets this offseason. It’s safe to say he’ll be showered with plenty of boos when he returns to Boston on Nov. 27.