NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics


BORROWING a phrase from TV Land … where in the world is Kyrie Irving (going)?

Every news cycle brings something new with this guy. Heck, by the time you read this, there will likely have been three more new rumors, ranging from staying in Boston all the way to working for the current White House investigating whether or not the Earth is flat.

Most people seem to think he’s gone, that both sides would benefit from him going elsewhere. As we’ve said here before, though, be careful what you wish for. Irving is the Celtics’ only true star and this is a star league.

When Anthony Davis was traded to Los Angeles the other day, it sparked the Irving-to-L.A. talk. Many believe he’s already set to sign with Brooklyn, but you have to remember Irving calling LeBron James to apologize for not understanding what it means to be the top guy and the expectations that go along with it.

Was that the first step in a reunion? Or are the Nets set to make the next questionable step in a long and not-so-proud history of goofing things up? Irving and DeAngelo Russell play the same position. Russell is younger and had a breakout season in 2018-19. He would have to be moved (to Boston?). Who would Irving be able to bring along with him?

The Lakers are said to be targeting Kawhi Leonard, who will be promised the Canadian moon to stay in Toronto. But Leonard is not part of a superstar base up north, so you have to wonder who he’d like to hook up with in the states. Kemba Walker is also a possibility for the Lakers.

The injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson threw things into a bit of an uproar, but both will be paid to rehab next season.

Al Horford has to make his career decision by today. Does he gamble and leave Boston? Do the Celts do a re-worked three-year deal after opting out? If he leaves (for free agency), how does that affect the Celtics, who could be facing the loss of both Irving and Horford? If there’s another rebuild, the three picks in a weak draft after the first nine or 10 picks won’t do much to address that rebuild.

The draft is Thursday. Davis can’t officially be traded until Saturday, July 6. By then, the landscape of the NBA could be drastically changed.

Count me among those who think Irving is gone. But I’m just not sold on the whole Brooklyn thing. We shall see.

The Celtics reportedly refused to include Jayson Tatum in the Davis talks, the Pelicans going right back to the original trade source by pulling off the deal with the Lakers. How do you feel about not dealing Tatum in a Davis package? That one-year gamble could have sent things spinning for years to come.

In a classy move, the Warriors took out a full-page ad in the Toronto Sun congratulating the Raptors “on their historic achievement and bringing the 2019 championship to the city of Toronto.”

Strange number

The early over/under win totals for the next NBA season are already out and the Boston number is 44½. Not sure how they can make that prediction given the fact we have no idea what the roster will look like.

Tweeted NBCSports Boston’s Darren Hartwell: “They haven’t won fewer than 48 games since 2014-15, when Avery Bradley was their leading scorer.”

One name I might want to look at for Boston is Julius Randle, a big guy who declined his $9 million option with New Orleans. I have always liked his game. He averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Pelicans after the Lakers let him walk.

Thanks to the reader who pointed out I butchered a note in Sunday’s column. Leonard joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to win finals MVP for two different teams — not the only players to WIN a title with two different teams. Heck, Robert Horry and John Salley won with THREE different franchises.

Big stretch

The Red Sox opened their run of 16 of the next 29 games against the Orioles and Blue Jays with a three-game sweep of the Birds in Baltimore.

When Sunday’s game, which almost got away because of another bullpen failure, was over, Christian Vazquez walked past the media and said, “Hey guys, we’re back.”

Are they? Weren’t we saying the same thing just 10 days ago, after a sweep in Kansas City? Then came three losses in four games to the Rays.

The Red Sox, back for six home games before a two-game home series with the Yankees in London, opened a three-gamer against the Twins Monday night. Entering play on Monday, the Twins owned baseball’s best record.

Coming into the Minnesota series, the Red Sox were 13-22 against teams at or above .500 starting play this week. They are 7-13 against the Yankees, Rays and Astros.

From Jon Couture of The Boston Globe: #redsox series wins since May 1: White Sox (.486 win pct.), O’s (2x, on 114-loss pace), Mariners (96-loss pace), Blue Jays (103-loss pace), Royals (111-loss pace). #RedSox series losses: Houston (2x), Cleve., Yankees, Rays. Split with Colo. and Texas.

That means there was something to prove in this series.

The bullpen? The one without the closer? Through Sunday, the Red Sox were officially 15-for-27 in save opportunities.

Yankees deal

On the surface, it looked like the Yankees were making a strange move in adding Edwin Encarnacion and not trading for a pitcher to address their rotation.

But there are some things to consider.

One, from our pal Bill Chuck (@billyball): “Since 2014, no batter has hit more homers against @RedSox than new @Yankees Edwin Encarnación, who has gone deep 22 times.”

In his career at Fenway, Encarnacion is hitting .282 (his overall career BA is .263) with 19 homers and 53 RBIs in 58 games. At Yankee Stadium, he is hitting .263 with 18/43 in 69 games.

There’s another angle: acquiring Encarnacion kept him away from the Tampa Bay Rays, which has to be taken very seriously the way they’ve played through mid-June.

Clint Frazier, who was hitting .375 with runners in scoring position and had 15 homers, was sacrificed to the minors to make room for Encarnacion and the returning Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Frazier said. “It’s never fun, especially with how much I felt like I’ve contributed to the team this year.”

Finally, we take you into the world of sports collectibles — a Babe Ruth jersey, dating back to 1928-30, sold for a record $5.6 million at auction. The auction was held at Yankee Stadium after the Ruth family put a collection of items up for sale. His granddaughter said part of the proceeds will go to charity.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.