Would a Kyrie Irving-for-Kawhi Leonard trade make sense for Boston?
In a recent ESPN Insider article, staff writers proposed four trades they would like to see the San Antonio Spurs make to end the season-long drama besetting that organization, one of which involves the Boston Celtics.
" ... [I]n a league increasingly favoring offenses that are predicated on preventing ball-stopping, while highly valuing the ability to switch everything defensively, it's not hard to see how this is a no-brainer for Boston. Leonard is the poster child for offensive efficiency, and with a lineup of 6-foot-8-plus athletes across the board, Boston would boast a deep enough, well-coached, flexible roster that could legitimately contend with the Golden State Warriors. Pending the physical, the Celtics would be best served by aggressively pursuing Leonard, going so far as to entertain adding additional picks (up to and including the Lakers/Kings pick owed from the Jayson Tatum deal last June). Re-signing Marcus Smart would become a priority, and the return of Gordon Hayward would provide some of the playmaking lost by Irving's departure."
On the surface, there's some good points here, but several things have been omitted if one takes a finer-grained view. First of all, Irving has been given a green light in terms of structural soundness for his knee, and while those of you skeptical of that diagnosis will not get too much pushback here, it's a long way from the murk surrounding the physical condition of Leonard.
There's also the personality aspect to consider, though. Both have a player option the season after next, and are thus a potential threat to leave if next season disappoints.
Both players have had recent issues with a team they were on, one of which led to Irving ending up in green in the first place, the other, while still with San Antonio, looking increasingly like his path will take a similar route.
However, in Kyrie's case, the reason for his departure is much clearer given how the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled this season, while the issues behind Kawhi's season of discontent are much less obvious.
Those lingering questions contrasted with Irving's desire to win in his new city should give pause, as should the fact that Boston is already doing well on the wings down Hayward, and adding him back and taking on another star wing player doesn't exactly sound optimal given Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum's unexpected early emergence.
But, given how little any of us actually know about the situation, at least for now, there's far too many unknowns to assess the situation in a way I'd be confident wouldn't lose me my job if I were the GM.
Mercifully for all of us Celtics fans, I am not the GM, and with Danny Ainge's record and skill, he can probably navigate us just fine through this morass of questions that would need answering for anything like this to come to fruition. But, since we can't know these things, how do YOU feel about such a trade? Would you gamble and make the move in the dark?Would the picks involved make the difference? Would Kawhi need to be healthy and committed to resigning? Would you demand an extension to make the deal work? Let us know in the comments below.