The Celtics pulled out a huge improbable win over the Thunder last night on the backs of guys like Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, and Jayson Tatum. The Thunder were running at full speed too with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony all suiting up. All of which was a huge boost for a suddenly ailing Celtics team, but sitting at my desk this morning I can’t help but still be massively concerned with Kyrie Irving’s knee.
My understanding is that Kyrie Irving is getting a 2nd opinion on his left knee, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Bottom line: he needs the screws out. Knee is flaring up. He will either play thru it going forward or … he will get thee screws out and won’t play at all. Stay tuned.
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) March 20, 2018
Yesterday afternoon Tony Massarotti broke the news that Kyrie was seeking a second opinion on his sore knee and that he could potentially have to get the screws removed from his surgically repaired knee, which would end his season.
Absolute worst case scenario. I assumed Kyrie was just resting up for the playoffs as the Celtics are basically locked into the No. 2 seed. Nope, apparently the doomsday scenario has been brewing all along. At least he’s not going hungry though.
— The 300s (@The300sBoston) March 20, 2018
Kyrie Irving from the Celtics is in Chipotle. Cool. ☘ pic.twitter.com/FTdLbVideF
— Jeremiah Poope (@bostonpoope) March 20, 2018
Then later in the day Adrian Wojnarowski came out and did his best to alleviate all our fears.
There remains no structural damage in Irving’s sore left knee, league sources tell ESPN. Belief is still rest is the best remedy for his eventual return. https://t.co/8iMGkb9OHT
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 20, 2018
That makes me feel a little better and at least gets me away from the ledge. I’m still debating smashing that panic button though.
Either way this isn’t a great situation to be in for the Celtics, short term or long term. Say he needs to get the screws out and his season’s over. Welp, I’ll see you and Gordon Hayward in the fall. No reason to even finish the season boys. But if Kyrie just needs rest then who’s to say the knee is going to really get any better? Kyrie playing on stilted legs is still better than half the league, but isn’t exactly going to fill me with confidence.
If you remember, Kyrie had knee surgery in 2015 after fracturing his knee cap, but he was still being quoted as recently as last year dropping F bombs in post game pressers about his knee flaring up. So this has been going on for quite a while now.
Now all of this begs the question of how does this affect the C’s long term? I still love the trade and would do it 100 times out of 100 to get a player of Kyrie’s caliber in Boston. You don’t just pick those guys up off the streets. The best free agent signing the Celtics have EVER landed was Al Horford, who the media around here have fetishized calling Average. My point being, even though Danny knew Kyrie’s knee would be a problem before making the trade, if you’re the Celtics you have to take the risk.
However, if we start looking at his contract, Kyrie has one year left on his deal after this season and then a player option after that. Usually players tend to opt out of those options and look for a big money long term contract. If Kyrie does in fact opt out and you’re the Celtics how comfortable do you feel giving a max deal to a guy with a bum knee?
In my opinion I don’t think it really matters all that much how you *feel* because unless Kyrie’s knee gets significantly worse or requires an additional surgery then you don’t have a choice. Pay. The. Man. The Celtics are in a win now mode so if Kyrie walks then that 2020 squad would theoretically be built around Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and a 33-year-old Al Horford. Not good enough. The Celtics need Kyrie and to be honest he might need them.
Kyrie has never played a full 82 game season and has only played in 70+ games 3 times in 7 seasons. So while he is an elite talent in the NBA, he comes with his baggage, which again I am fully willing to sign off on. However after a broken foot at Duke, a broken knee cap in 2015, and then still not being totally healthy 3 years later, Kyrie may be more willing to sign an extension earlier (and possibly cheaper) than he originally intended. I know the Celtics didn’t offer him a giant extension, but just look at Isaiah Thomas as a cautionary tale. The guy played out of his mind, got hurt, then got traded into a couple of bad situations and now he’s staring down free agency much more likely to make 6th man money than the max extension he expected less than 12 months ago.
So I guess I’ll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until Woj or Mazz or someone breaks some news that I can actually do something with. Until then I’ll just sit here doomsday prepping for what the Celtics will look like in 2020 without Kyrie Irving.