BOSTON (CBS) — With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford departing for Eastern Conference rivals, it hasn’t been a particularly great offseason for the Boston Celtics. Most Boston fans were happy to see Irving take his attitude to Brooklyn, but losing his talent and a veteran like Horford (who signed in Philadelphia) is going to hurt next season.
While there were dreams of battling the Warriors in the Finals ahead of last season, the outlook has changed quite a bit for the Celtics. The Celtics are no longer mentioned as a favorite to win the East, and that lengthy run as a title contender has evaporated.
But a former Celtics great doesn’t think the situation is all that dire, and believes the team will be in the mix in the East when the 2019-20 NBA season tips off. With the Celtics replacing Irving with Kemba Walker this offseason, Paul Pierce still has some high hopes for his former squad.
“I never thought they were in a bad position, even with Kyrie leaving,” Pierce told The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett over the weekend. “I mean, you’ve still got a chance to develop the young guys. And I think Kemba Walker is a great pickup. They’re still a threat in the East. But even before they signed Kemba, I thought they were all right.”
Chemistry issues plagued the Celtics all last season, much of which centered around Irving and Boston’s young players. Pierce sounds confident that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can bounce back after a tough 2018-19 season and rise to the levels they played at during Boston’s 2018 postseason run, and believes Walker and his approach will be a bit part of it.
“I mean, talent don’t always win. We’ve seen that plenty of times. It’s about fit,” said Pierce. “Who knows if Kemba’s going to be the right fit, because it’s always about more than basketball. It’s about how you get along with your teammates and how the chemistry is. And that’s a strength of Kemba’s, so hopefully it’ll work out.”
Whether he’s right or not, it’s clear that “The Truth” still bleeds green.