Morning sports update: Stephen A. Smith says Kyrie Irving is the ‘odds-on front-runner’ to win MVP next season

"If he’s healthy, I think he’s going to put on a show next year."

Kyrie Irving Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden on Nov. 16, 2017. –Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez, and J.D. Martinez both homered to lead the Red Sox to a 9-1 win over the Angels. David Price struck out seven in six innings for Boston.

Stephen A. Smith: Kyrie Irving is the ‘odds-on front runner’ to win MVP next season

Most of the discussion around the Celtics centers upon their depth and versatility, but that team success could translate into individual honors next season if the expected glories come to pass. Stephen A. Smith gave Kyrie Irving the early edge in the running for next season’s NBA MVP race — provided Boston’s star point guard stays on the court.

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“I think he’s going to have a shot,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take. “Assuming that he’s healthy, obviously — because that’s the impediment. If he’s healthy, I think he’s going to put on a show next year.”

Smith pointed to the Celtics’ overall talent, as well as Irving’s singular abilities, to support his argument.

“I think with the pieces that Boston has in place, the style of play that they put forth, their ability to spread the floor, the things that he can do in the open court, I think that he’s going to put on an absolute show next year,” Smith said. “And he would be my odds-on front runner to win league MVP next season — because Boston’s obviously going to be successful.”

His cohost Max Kellerman threw another name into the hat, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, but Smith has his doubts about the Pelicans’ ceiling in a packed Western Conference.

“Within two years I think you’re right, he’ll be the best player in the world. I don’t doubt that,” he said. “The problem is I don’t know if New Orleans will enjoy the same level of success out West with the other parts that he has around him outside of Jrue Holiday.”

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If Irving does capture the award, he’ll be the first Celtic to do so since Larry Bird won three MVP’s in a row from 1983-86.

Do you want Adrian Beltre back on the Red Sox?: The Sox are reportedly potential suitors for Beltre, who made an All-Star team in Boston eight years ago. The acquisition would take some creative thinking to pull off, Chad Finn writes, but it would be worth it “to help now, and as a reminder of the old times that didn’t last long enough.” (Boston.com)

Gordon Hayward explained a ‘complication’ in his recovery process: In an update on his blog, the Celtics forward wrote that while he’s still on track to be ready for the beginning of next season, he recently had to have surgery. The procedure removed plates and screws that were put in his ankle after his season-ending injury on opening night. (Boston.com)

The Bruins are in contention to land the top pending free agent this offseason. Will it happen?: The Bruins are among the suitors chasing John Tavares, the New York Islanders superstar center. As soon as Tavares makes his decision, the rest of the NHL free agent dominoes will fall into place. (Boston.com)

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