NOTE TO Kyrie Irving in the wake of this most disappointing Celtics season:
Enjoy your life in New York, Los Angeles or wherever it is you call home next season.
Or, in the words of many Celtics fans after the finale: don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.
Irving, who has uttered a series of confusing comments during his two seasons in Boston, who whined his way out of Cleveland because he was tired of deferring to LeBron James as THE guy, failed in his bid to do just that in Boston. It wasn’t all his fault, but this season ended with the Celtics playing worse with Irving than they did when both Irving and Gordon Hayward were hurt the previous year.
Irving, who can can opt out of his current contract, has maintained an “ask me July 1” stance on what he’s going to do. There appears to be no way he won’t do that. The questions now become: do the Celtics try to keep him? Does he have any desire to stay? Does he stay and head coach Brad Stevens leaves? Do the Celtics opt for Terry Rozier over Irving?
This will be, to say the least, an interesting offseason. Danny Ainge‘s health has to factor in. So does Stevens’ future. If the Celtics keep Irving, will they bring in another star to go around him?
Here’s the thing: If Irving walks, the Celtics do not have a true star. Name me an NBA team that wins without a true star. It’s a star league and Irving, like him or not, is a star.
Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsbury is reportedly leaving the staff — per report by the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach Wednesday night — to become an assistant at Purdue. Count on this being the first of many changes coming during the offseason.
Could that include Stevens, who may or may not have had enough of this pro game and could want to return to college? He has been the Celtics’ coach for six seasons and had his greatest success with Irving and Hayward out.
After Wednesday night’s rather embarrassing exit, Stevens put the spotlight squarely on himself. In short, his team didn’t show up for an elimination game.
“That’s probably the part that eats at me the most,” he said. “I’ve been a head coach for 12 years and we let go of the rope more and cracked more than we probably should have. We need to be better than that. … As far as any other year that I’ve been a head coach, it’s certainly been the most trying. I did a bad job. At the end of the day as a coach, if your team doesn’t find its best fit together, that’s on you.”
Irving indirectly threw his coach under the bus by crediting the coaching of Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer. Meanwhile, Rozier, a restricted free agent, said there was a problem but that the coach was in an unfair situation.
Rozier sounded for all the world like a guy who wants no part of Boston next season. Technically, though, he has no choice –- restricted means just that –- and one would think Irving’s departure would leave the door open for a Rozier extension.
”I don’t give a (bleep) what nobody say, I sacrificed the most out of anybody,” Rozier said. “I’m a top point guard in this league. I feel like it’s a fresh start, whether I’m here or whether I’m gone.”
He’s right about being a top point guard. Remember, Rozier averaged 16.5 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in last year’s playoffs. This postseason, he averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per as his minutes were cut in half.
”Everybody was running around with their heads cut off, like chickens,” Rozier said. “Coach was in a tough position, one of the toughest positions, dealing with all these guys with attitudes, all that (stuff). Guys that’s All-Stars, guys getting paid a lot of money, guys trying to get paid. It’s tough.”
Rozier thanks those closest to him for getting him through the season, saying, “Because I’ve been dealing with some (bleep). I feel like we all still had that one goal. It wasn’t easy on coach dealing with a lot of guys that want to be great trying to get theirs.”
A possibility: Did Irving and the injured Kevin Durant play their final games with their respective teams Wednesday night?
Other series notes
The Celtics lost four straight games by a total of 65 points with only one of the four fewer than 12 (seven in Game 3). … Giannis Antetokounmpo had back-to-back 30-point/10-rebound games in the series, joining LeBron James and Patrick Ewing as the only players since 1990 to do that in the playoffs, per Basketball Reference. … George Hill, who had a great series off the bench for the Bucks, was guilty of a turnover in Game 5 –- the only one he committed in some 126 minutes in the five games.
It took a great Jackie Bradley Jr. catch and an Andrew Benintendi homer to do it, but the Red Sox, a night before their rather controversial visit to the White House, pulled a game out in Baltimore Wednesday night. In improving to 4-3 against that miserable team, the Sox got back to the .500 mark for the first time since 1-1.
Ah, the White House –- this has nothing to do with the man in charge (we assumed), but the official announcement had the peoples’ home welcoming the Boston Red Socks on Thursday.
Meanwhile, manager Alex Cora insists the divide over who was going and who was not … doesn’t exist.
“There’s been a lot of talk about what’s going on (Thursday), the clubhouse being divided, race, politics, whatever,” Cora said. “Those kids went out there and they played their heart out. We know who we are in the clubhouse. We know a lot of people doubt that. But like last year, we cancel the noise, we show up every day, and we play.
”I was watching the game (Wednesday), and I was like, ‘You know what, yeah.’ It was cool. For everybody that’s talking about us, the situation, crushing us throughout the week, well, they played extra innings. They didn’t give in. And you see them in the clubhouse, they’re celebrating Heath (Hembree) because of the first save, they’re celebrating Jackie, and now, we go. There’s a group that’s going home, and there’s a group going to the White House. And on Friday, we get back — get back to playing baseball.”
At home against the Mariners.
As far as getting back to .500, the Sox got the real Chris Sale back, the pitching looks better, but they went 5-2 against the White Sox and Orioles. They feasted on bad teams last year. They should be able to do that again.
Ben Watson, the second tight end to come out of retirement since the end of the season (Watson’s was only months long), is visiting the Patriots as the seeks a return. The Chiefs, Bills and 49ers were also said to be in the mix, but your money would have to be on the Pats, his original team. Jason Witten, who sat out a year, is also returning.
Hear that, Gronk?
Speaking of Gronk, TV analyst Mike Rupp said Charlie Coyle, with his Bruins in Thursday night’s opener against the Hurricanes, was known as “Baby Gronk” when he played in Minnesota.
Finally, Bobby Jenks, who pitched the final 19 games of his career for the Red Sox, received a $5.1 million settlement from a Massachusetts General Hospital doctor because the doc oversaw another surgery while operating on Jenks’ spine.
“Never picking up a baseball again is absolutely devastating,” Jenks told the Globe. “I was living my dream, and it was taken away from me.”