Toronto Raptors free agency 2019: Who in East got better, who got worse

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
5 of 6
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics

With Kyrie Irving having one foot out the door, the Celtics were going to take a step back on paper this offseason; the only question was how much of a step back.

Things got worse for Boston when Al Horford decided to also head elsewhere. The Celtics were losing their starting center and starting point guard — the best two players on the team.

But at the last second, the Celtics managed to salvage a respectable offseason. Kemba Walker agreed to a four-year maximum contract (technically in a sign-and-trade for Terry Rozier), preventing Boston from heading into a full-fledged rebuild.

The Celtics have already lost a lot this offseason: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier. And are at risk of losing Marcus Morris as well. Their only major acquisition was Walker, who in terms of raw talent, isn’t the same player as Irving.

But Boston’s problem last season was less about talent and more the chemistry. By all accounts, Irving consistently alienated teammates and often talked down to them publicly. Terry Rozier made a mess of his situation as soon as the year was over. The Celtics need a culture reset more than they need talent.

Losing Al Horford will hurt, but Irving for Kemba won’t be a significant loss. Combine that with the chemistry upgrade they should experience, and it’s not hard to picture the Celtics in greater contention than they were last season. If they’re willing to part with future assets, they might go a step further than that.

Sentence long review: How high you are on Boston is highly correlated with how much you value chemistry/fit vs pure talent.