If the NBA doesn’t cancel the 2019-20 season, games are going to be played well into the summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the league is looking at the possibility of picking up play in mid-to-late June — for perspective, the 2019 NBA Finals concluded on June 13.
Naturally, this has a significant impact on every playoff team in the league. Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James have a chance to rest up. The status of both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving now comes into question. If the Nets do get their two star players back, the Celtics may have been better off as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference all along.
But it doesn’t end there when it comes to Boston.
This extended rest has potential for both positive and negative impacts — Durant being in the playoff mix being a negative impact for the C’s, even though that’s entirely out of their control.
Kemba Walker has the chance to get extended rest for his knee. He may have been getting back into the flow of gameplay, but the opportunity for Walker to further strengthen his knee without the pressure of missing games allows for a more detailed approach to his workout routine.
Jaylen Brown also doesn’t have to rush things with his hamstring. Even a hamstring strain, which is what Brown had, can be tricky.
Getting Gordon Hayward off his feet for a while doesn’t hurt either — even though there’s been no indication he’s had any issues outside of his recent knee contusion. And this does impact the wing on another level.
Hayward has a player option for 2020-21, the final year of his deal with the Celtics. No matter when the NBA picks up play, there’s no guarantee fans will be allowed to attend right away. This would impact the amount of money the league makes, which impacts the salary cap, which then affects how much a team can pay free agents — i.e. Hayward — in the offseason.
He’s set to make just under $34.2 million next season. It was hard to imagine he’d get a new max deal from anyone based on his injury history and play. But now it seems like any team who might’ve been able to offer a sizeable contract — both in terms of money and years — won’t have as much room to do so anymore.
The delay’s impact on Boston’s defense is still up in the air. Opposing shooting guards were starting to become a major problem for the Celtics. This gives them time to address that flaw — this is, of course, dependent on how much the team communicates during this time.
But, as much as the Celtics’ defense wasn’t perfect, this extended break could also impact whatever rhythm the group had. Brad Stevens’ scheme is heavily reliant on players knowing where one another will be at all times. The best way to develop that understanding is by playing. And, you know, that’s not happening anytime soon.