Boston Celtics: Where the franchise stands heading into the 2018 offseason

Boston Celtics: Where the franchise stands heading into the 2018 offseason

Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals, despite not having either Irving or Hayward to call upon in the playoffs.

Just as the Celtics rejuvenated themselves under head coach Brad Stevens, James was there to meet the franchise at the rim again, this time having returned to the wine-and-gold.

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving is one of the best point guards in the National Basketball Association.

Irving was searching for a home and it seemed like he found it in Boston.

That part is all well and good, but after reports that the Celtics are "scared" Irving will depart in free agency next year, a little reassurance wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

He doesn't want to talk about his contract extension - which he said would not make sense "contractually" or "financially" - he doesn't want to talk about his long-term plans with the Celtics, and he doesn't want to talk about the possibility of his former teammate LeBron James coming to Boston. He lives in the now, and knows it's not in his best interest to give up his only leverage with Boston come next summer.

However, as The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks states here, James could opt into the final season of his contract with Cleveland at $35.6 million and be shipped to Boston in a sign-and-trade.

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However, Irving grew disgruntled in Cleveland. "I think that's the exciting part about all this is that when you're shaping up to gear up to be a championship-caliber team for years to come - which I think Danny (Ainge) has echoed for a little bit".

In the meantime, he's wondering what the Celtics will look like when Hayward joins Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the gang. This season he averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game. However, do the Cavaliers want to be the team Irving deserts following the season? He is the priciest of the three, commanding 29 percent of the Celtics salary cap this year with a figure of $31.2 million. This could mean that the Celtics begin to explore trades for Irving to make sure they get some value back for a player who could leave for nothing.

As for the draft, the Celtics have 27th pick and should be able to find a solid bench player at that point.

However, Ainge would have to understand the risks of this move, especially when offering a package including Hayward.

Irving should probably be careful what he wishes for, because one question a day during the regular season would end up being a lot of questions by the end of the season.

Irving could be the no-questions-asked leader of a championship-caliber team in a big market if he remains in Boston.

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