We arrived at the darkest timeline for the Boston Celtics just in the third quarter of Wednesday's Game 5 loss at Milwaukee Bucks:
The Nets gave the Celtics all their selections and are probably in better shape as a franchise right now.
– Bumpkin pig (@ bigpumpkin4real) May 9, 2019
That is grim … but not totally irrational. Active by badet, the Celtics created a team that, just seven months ago, was considered the best challenger of the Golden State dynasty. But everything collapsed this season in a lot of ridicule and cryptic comments. The guts of the team that won a victory under the NBA Finals last year are still here, behind all that black roll, however, the main office faces the decisions of the crossroads at the crossroads with virtually all the important players on the list, starting with Kyrie Irving. These are the five most important questions that await Boston after losing 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs:
Will Kyrie Irving return?
Irving tried, aggressively, to stifle the conversation about his future at various points during the season, but there is a reason why it was such a hot topic: his election in free agency this summer has the potential to shape not only the Conference of the East In the next few years, but the whole NBA. Say what he wants about his lackluster defense or his slumping shots in the second round, after claiming he was in the regular season "BS" and that he is ready for the "highest level", Irving is still a player He changes his franchise and, at 27, he has just entered his prime.
No team, of course, will feel the impact of Irving's decision more than the Celtics. If he stays, Danny Ainge will be at David Griffin's gate in New Orleans the next day, with the cards in hand, ready to drive Anthony Davis away and turn his contender's training wheels into monster truck tires. If Irving leaves, Ainge and Co. will keep coming back to the drawing board with the guts of a good young team, and probably much less stress, but without a clear answer on how to make the leap to the favorite title without sacrificing the future (more on that then).
For what it's worth, the Celtics can outbid any other team for Irving, if they opt for the final year of their contract: Boston can offer five years, $ 190 million, while the other 29 NBA franchises can Offer a maximum of four years. , $ 141 million. But while a player with Irving's injury history will have to consider an additional year of safety, recent history, including Irving, suggests that where and with whom he wants to play a star is much more important than how long his agreement lasts.
Is Jayson Tatum the commercial bait or the future of the franchise?
Irving can stay, Irving can go, but the referendum on Tatum's career is coming no matter what. A year ago, the then rookie looked like a future MVP candidate, but a season of walking the offensive, settle for mid-range jumpers, and sublet to IRL has sent many Tatum to retreat to the bushes. It's worth noting that Tatum really improved in his second season: virtually all of his gross totals have gone up, and although his scoring efficiency has dropped, expecting a new level of Steph Curry from 3, even at a low volume, was a bit ambitious. To rate any comment by Tatum, good or bad, with his age has become the favorite Internet joke for two consecutive years, but here's the thing: He is only 21-and was only 20 for most of this season. Only five players 20 years old or less averaged 15 or more points this season, and Tatum had the highest score of effective field goals of any of them that did not always shoot right in the basket. Tatum has not been great, but it's worth remembering that Brandon Ingram cost him only a couple of games this spring to regain traction before a blood clot problem disrupted the rest of his season.
The most important question is whether the Celtics consider Irving as the main cause of Tatum's second season. If Irving stays, Tatum should begin to develop a taste for boudin as soon as possible; Boston can build a satisfying supply of badet pupae for Davis without casting Tatum in an exchange, but Tatum is the trump card in case the offer turns into an arms race. And if Irving leaves, Boston will have to decide whether a one-season bet on Davis, à la Toronto's with Kawhi Leonard, is worth splitting into two low-cost seasons, plus team control over his next contract. , 21 years old. old man who recently helped direct the franchise to the Eastern finals. Keeping all the young players and relying on the brilliant change team that made its way into the playoffs last year has its merits, especially for a fan base that has had to suffer through post-What It All About treaties by half-year. But Ainge has been filling his war chest to run Davis for years; Anything, or anyone, will prevent Ainge from getting his man?
Will Al Horford return?
Irving is not the only Celtics player who could walk away this summer. Horford, signed for a maximum of four years in 2016, has a $ 30.1 million player option for next season, when he will be 33 years old. You would think that a player of his age and experience and recent injury history would be difficult to understand. find that kind of annual value elsewhere, but a hungry defense and leadership team, for example, Atlanta, the old Horford land? I could replicate what the Sixers did with JJ Redick in 2017 and pay in excess to accelerate their rebuilding process. Or Horford could prioritize the security of a long-term agreement with a lower capital number instead of a maximum of one year.
Committing to Horford this season does not seem prudent for a Boston team entering a new era in one way or another, but it will need it next season at any iteration that ends. If the pelicans take a broader view and do not seek to unite Horford and Jrue Holiday, who, for what it's worth, share an agent, Horford would become an ideal partner on the attack track with Davis, a center that prefers to leave jams. Beatings of the position to others. And if the Celtics become young, Horford can simply replay his defensive anchor role and help the team become competitive as moving trucks come and go. It is not yet the time of the Lord of Time.
Re-sign Terry Rozier?
Rozier seemed to be marked by the fodder trade since he flaunted his civic pride in the last postseason. (It definitely did not work for the last owner). But it was because the Celtics needed insurance after Irving's surgery or a market never materialized for a leading guard with the firm hand of a baby operating a jackhammer. Rozier lasted his last year hired in Boston and will go to restricted free agency. The question now regarding Rozier is the same as the Celtics will find themselves asking about virtually every young player on this list: Can he go back to the playoff form of the postseason in Irving's absence? The conjecture here is no, and if the members of Boston agree, their decision-making tree becomes quite simple: match or accept any reasonable offer to keep the badet, as they did with Marcus Smart last year; otherwise, let the 25 year old retake his ironic t-shirt business in the market of his choice.
Extend Jaylen Brown?
As if there was not enough already in Ainge's agenda, Brown, he did not. The 3rd pick in the 2016 draft is eligible for a rookie contract extension before the start of next season. If you saw the Celtics this postseason, this seems like an easy call: as Tatum came and went, Brown returned to the bold attack style that prompted him to emerge last year and reaffirmed his position as a fundamental perspective, perhaps even better than his Jay teammate. If Boston does not sell for long-range shots of Brown, 35 percent of 3 in the postseason, 34.4 percent in the regular season, could add him to the Davis bid. If Boston is sold, it would be prudent to lock Brown before he demonstrates the breadth of his offensive game, either playing out of Davis or in an offense with many more shots.