Jackson 5: 5 final thoughts on ’18-’19 Celtics

By Aaron Jackson,

Perhaps mercifully the Boston Celtics season is over. Gone are hopes of the Boston slam (not that it was ever a real possibility anyway). Diehard Celtics fans likely still held some hope, but I think most knew this wasn’t a team capable of making a long playoff run. If you haven’t already (shame on you) it’s now time to shift all your focus onto the Boston Bruins, but before you do so, here are 5 final thoughts on the Celtics season.

  1. Kyrie Irving is not a leader: Deep down we’ve known this for a while, despite wishing it wasn’t true. Irving, in his present state, is not a capable leader of a championship contender. It just goes to show that talent is perhaps not the most important factor in that equation. Now, that’s not to say Kyrie can’t learn to be a leader. The best people in any profession make mistakes, handle situations poorly, and learn from them. If Kyrie is ever to be the leader he says he is he’ll learn a lot from this last year, and use that to his advantage, albeit probably not in Boston.

  2. Kyrie leaving doesn’t have to be a zero sum decision: Let’s assume Kyrie wants out. Let’s also assume the Celtics still want to hold on to him, but aren’t quite as enamored as they used to be. I think that’s the situation we find ourselves in now. That doesn’t mean Boston should just “let him go”. He’s still an asset, one that they can offer more money than anyone else can. It makes sense for the Celtics and Irving to sign a long term deal in Boston, with the idea being they can then trade him to the team he’d like to go to. Irving gets more money, Boston gets something for a major assets departure, and both can move on. I call that a win win.

  3. Terry Rozier becomes important: Assuming the first two, Rozier becomes much more important for the Celtics. He’s proven he can be a valuable player on this team, and likely fits the current roster better than Irving. But there’s no reading between the lines in his postseason comments. Dude is pissed, and let everyone know. Can the bridge between he and the team be rebuilt? If so, the Celtics can and should match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent. If not, that leaves Boston without a point guard.

  4. Just how good is Brad Stevens: If it were simply X’s and O’s that made a great NBA coach there would be a whole lot more of them. It’s not. I would argue 50-to-60 percent of what makes an NBA coach successful is their ability to handle egos. Perhaps more than any other sport individual players matter in basketball, and they know it. How a coach handles playing time issues, the amount of shots a player gets, etc, often determines just how well they fare. Unfortunately for Stevens the jury is still out in that regard. He needed to do a better job of finding ways to make the pieces fit this year. He admitted as much after their game five loss, calling the season trying and saying he did a bad job and that the results are on him. Just like I said with Irving though, Stevens now needs to step back, evaluate what happened, and adjust. This next season will be his most important as a head coach.

  5. What does the future hold: Marcus Morris is a free agent, along with Irving. Al Horford could be if he decides to opt out of his 30-million dollar deal (unlikely), and Terry Rozier is a restricted free agent. They could have as many as 4 draft picks in the first round, and are still likely very interested in Anthony Davis. And if there’s one thing we know about Danny Ainge it’s that there’s always more options than we know. He could decide to blow this whole thing up, and or he could decide patience is  a virtue and this team just needed another year to gel. Either way we’re at the point where major decisions will need to be made, and those will either make or break this team’s ability to contend for years to come.

Aaron Jackson is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.