The Boston Celtics flamed out of the playoffs in ugly fashion on Wednesday, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the second round.
Now, after a disappointing season that saw them come up much shorter than the 60-win and NBA Finals contention that many expected, they head into an offseason with a massive question: what will Kyrie Irving do?
Irving invited some of the rampant speculation about his future that is coming his way. After saying at a season-ticket-holders event in October that he planned on re-signing with the Celtics, he backtracked in February, telling reporters to ask him about his future on July 1, saying he doesn’t “owe anybody s—.”
It suddenly opened a door that seemed shut. The Celtics had been openly struggling with camaraderie when Irving made those comments, yet few thought he was a true flight risk.
The Celtics’ plan going forward now revolves around whether they can convince Irving to stay in Boston.
What does Kyrie Irving want?
ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast, “The Lowe Post,” on Wednesday that some league executives have floated the theory that Irving has “concocted” the appearance of unhappiness to set the stage for his exit in free agency. Perhaps Irving’s public comments about struggling with leadership, his distaste for the media, and his wafflings on personal growth were ways to set a foundation to leave the Celtics.
It seems far-fetched, but it’s a sign that few really know what’s going on with Irving and what he wants.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, who was a guest on the podcast, said she believes Irving is stream-of-consciousness thinker and talker. Some think Irving’s mind could already be made up, but MacMullan believes Irving may not yet know what he wants to do.
There are a broad range of possibilities. Irving’s current situation is a good one. He’s the clear-cut No. 1 star on a historic franchise that has improving, young talent and the assets to make the team better.
Yet, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, some around the NBA believe Irving and the Celtics are heading for a split.
Irving’s comments throughout the season (particularly when he made a point to note that he called LeBron James to apologize for bristling at his leadership attempts wth the Cleveland Cavaliers) raised questions ab