6. Boston Celtics
Things are looking pretty grim for the Boston Celtics at the moment. All signs are pointing to Kyrie Irving joining the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, and after the Celtics’ young players — and the team in general — deeply disappointed this year, the future no longer looks as bright as it once did.
Danny Ainge‘s best hope of convincing Kyrie to stay is trading for Anthony Davis — a move that comes with its own set of risks, not including the possibility that Irving still leaves in free agency anyway. AD’s agent has publicly and privately made it known that the Brow would be a one-year rental if the Celtics trade for him, with the Lakers still being his ultimate goal.
However, Ainge also just watched the Raptors — who traded for Kawhi Leonard on a similar one-year rental, with a similar promise he’d be leaving for L.A. — win a championship. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry undoubtedly factors in here, not only in trying to beat each other with trade offers, but also in making sure Boston didn’t give up legitimate assets for one of the game’s top-five players, only to watch him leave for that rival in free agency after one season.
To that end, do the Celtics finally put Jayson Tatum on the table with Jaylen Brown and a host of draft picks? A core of Kyrie, AD, Al Horford and role players would certainly be enough to contend in the East, which could be enough to convince both Kyrie and AD to stick around for the long-term. It’s also extremely risky that could sacrifice the long-term future. Everything would have to fall into place perfectly here, but Ainge has never been shy about making moves.