Report: Celtics are scared "of Kyrie Irving walking in 2019"

If you're a GM and you think there's a chance an All-Star-level talent might walk away from your team, and you aren't worried - well, I hope you don't mind looking for a new job sometime soon.

But the Boston Celtics - and Danny Ainge - do not fit this description by any stretch of the imagination, if reporting from Yahoo Sport's Chris Mannix is accurate. Boston, it seems, has concerns Irving may jump ship once he's healthy and a free agent after next season, as Mannix related on a recent podcast:
"I think they are scared. I think they are scared and should be scared to some degree of Kyrie Irving walking in 2019. I know he had a great year, but there are people in Cleveland that will tell you that the Knicks should be considered a real threat for Kyrie Irving. Because Kyrie had talked about it - about playing with the Knicks with some players in that Cleveland locker room, from what I was told."
There has been nothing to suggest the Celtics have strong concerns to this end, but with chatter like this out there, it's probably wisest to plan for such a future. Unlike other teams, Boston can offer more money than any other team, but we only have to look towards Gordon Hayward for an example of why that might not be enough.

Of course, the New York Knicks are not the Celtics, nor are they likely to resemble them for at least a few seasons given their current cap situation, with guys like Joakim Noah clogging up their books - and budding star Kristaps Porzingis yet to play a game after tearing his ACL last February. The most interesting players on the roster beyond this season are Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina, and mmmaybe Emmanuel Mudiay.

Everyone else on that roster is trash, gone, or gone and trash - and when was the last time a free agent not named Ray left the Celtics (even that infamous defection was on the downswing of a contending group)? Frankly speaking, I don't see Irving leaving unless this was the plan all along. If this is just chatter, it'll likely die out fast, but it may force Boston's hand if there's some substance to this rumor.

I'd imagine in that case, Danny would offer a max extension this summer, and then would take steps to move Kyrie before the trade deadline if the situation did not improve, suddenly lending credence to a myriad of potential trades that analysts and readers alike have been fantasizing about for some time now. Perhaps we finally see Anthony Davis in green as part of a three-team deal, or one that gets LeBron James to Boston, despite many a fan's misgivings.
We might see Kawhi Leonard make the imagined torch-passing seen from Gregg Popovich to Brad Stevens become a little less fictitious than in the new Game of Zones clip, or perhaps Paul George ends up East in a surprise twist. But in all honesty, I think we see Kyrie, Gordon, the Jay-Team and Average Al hoist a banner just about a year from today more than any of these scenarios.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more stories by Justin, click here.

Image: Brian Babineau/NBAE
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn