When the Cavaliers sent Irving to the Celtics, LeBron took the high road publicly.
There are some sour grapes on Cleveland’s end of things, of course. Not necessarily from James, who tweeted out a glowing tribute to Irving. He will be “ready at training camp no matter what,” according to a source close to James. But from others who wonder if Irving bit off more than he could chew.
“I was hoping Ky was going to get to lead a team,” one Cavs player told ESPN. “See what it’s like to have the entire franchise on his back.”
It would have been intriguing to watch Irving try carrying a franchise – and it’s interesting that one of his former teammates wanted to see that experiment. When he walked into those duties in Cleveland before LeBron’s return, Irving wasn’t ready. Maybe he is now?
Irving might wind up the Celtics’ best player, but they already have stars in Gordon Hayward and kind of Al Horford, potential future stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a revered coach in Brad Stevens and 17 championship banners. This won’t be a franchise that views Irving as a savior.
That will probably be good for Irving in the long run. But is there any risk he carries himself as the unquestioned franchise player in Boston upon arrival? Is there any risk he finds his role less than completely fulfilling and leaves in free agency in two years?
Irving, like his anonymous former teammate, might want to eventually answer the curiosity: Can he put an entire franchise on his back?
Or Irving might find contentment with the Celtics and leave that itch unscratched.