Anyone who followed the Celtics for five minutes in 2018-19 shouldn’t be surprised by news that Kyrie Irving had a less than ideal relationship with his younger teammates. Jayson Tatum recently expressed the Celtics, in fact, did get along. Problem was, the chemistry was only solid off the court. Tatum admitted when it came to on the court matters, the Celtics had issues getting on the same page.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix helped fill some of the gaps Tatum left open when he wrote Irving’s “rocky relationship with some of his young teammates (is) among the reasons” he “has one foot out the door.” But, again, this general idea was right in everyone’s face, especially when Irving had a mic in front of his.
The real question in all of this: who did Irving have issues with on the roster, specifically?
From the way he and Tatum interacted in front of cameras at NBA All-Star Weekend, they seemed fine. (They used to share an agent, too.) Even then, if Irving comes back, Tatum is probably headed for New Orleans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
Jaylen Brown is likely the only one who’d still be around if Irving re-signed. Even then, he could still be sent south. And if he did stick around, would it be impossible for those two to mend fences?
The NBA is wide open next year due to both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson going down with serious injuries. The hypothetical combination of Irving, Davis, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and either Brown or Gordon Hayward should absolutely be able to make a push for the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond. Because, for the first time in a long time, there isn’t an impossible obstacle at the end of the road.