The Celtics are still alive in the playoffs, but several basketball analysts are already talking about Kyrie Irving’s future away from Boston.
After losing Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the the Bucks on Monday night, 113-101, Irving and the Celtics now face a 3-1 series deficit. While Irving is far from the only one at fault for Boston’s current predicament, he’s the team’s highest profile player (and top scorer).
Given that he can (and likely will) opt out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics this summer, the speculation over whether he stays or leaves is already in full swing. Yet the circumstances of his potential exit have added a new dimension to the discussion.
In the wake of Boston’s latest loss, criticism was directed at Irving from many directions. The team’s possible playoff elimination on Wednesday despite lofty preseason predictions hasn’t escaped notice.
“He said, ‘I want to be my own man,'” Charles Barkley noted after Game 4. “And now you’re your own man who’s going on vacation Thursday morning.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 7, 2019
Irving’s decision to walk off the court before the final buzzer drew attention, as did his postgame comments.
“Both with his beat-the-traffic departure and his prolonged shooting slump, Irving sidestepped all accountability,” wrote NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. “To be fair, he deserves a bit of credit for stepping in front of the cameras — especially on a night when teammates like Gordon Hayward were quick to slip out of the locker room while reporters were entering — and yet Irving might have compounded matters by being a bit standoffish in his postgame responses.”
After their Game 4 loss, Kyrie was asked about going 19-62 FG over the last 3 games.
"Who cares? … For me, the 22 shots, I should’ve shot 30." pic.twitter.com/R3TlkfAnyC
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 7, 2019
“You look at some of the comments Kyrie made last night,” said Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. “I mean come on, man. Show some humility after this. You’ve been terrible for the last three games. Take accountability, say ‘it’s on me,’ and that’s something he’s been unwilling to do. And thus a lot of people in Boston are frustrated by not only his actions on the court, but also his actions off the court.”
— Stadium (@Stadium) May 7, 2019
Others see Irving’s future as a free agent in the summer heading away from Boston.
“That was Kyrie’s last home game as a Boston Celtic,” said Nick Wright on FS1.
"The series is over and Kyrie's tenure in Boston is over. This entire 2-year experiment with Kyrie Irving is ending in disaster. And while I empathize with Kyrie, he has made this worse on himself."
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 7, 2019
On ESPN’s “The Jump,” Jalen Rose asserted that not only is Irving done in Boston, but that his teammates will be happy to see him go.
“He’s done in Boston,” Rose bluntly explained. “[His] teammates will help him pack.”
"He's done in Boston … [his] teammates will help him pack."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 7, 2019