Late last night, Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving said to multiple beat reporters that an extension this summer doesn’t make any sense for him financially. He joked that he’s not looking forward to the daily questions about his future, and reiterated that his sole focus is remaining healthy for the season while zeroing in on a championship. He fielded questions about curiosities surrounding the team and it’s promise to compete for a ring, though it took a back seat to his looming free agency. Celtics fans are losing sleep lately with the back and forth of if he’ll stay or when he’ll go. The latter is shaping up as expected, and don’t expect the rumor mill to stop producing. Let’s examine Kyrie’s press release to get a clearer picture on what’s seeming to be his inevitable departure.
Good Times Never Seemed so Good
As much as Boston faithful doesn’t want to admit, Kyrie Irving might not be looking to be neighbors with Tom Brady. In fact, he has between 86 to 106 million reasons why he should leave Boston at the end of the 2019 season.
When Irving was traded to the Celtics there were echoes of rejoice. Having acquired a young, promising, perennial All-Star PG with a championship under his belt and a chip on his shoulder, he immediately fit in. Becoming the face of the franchise and bringing the Celtics to be favorites to win the East, Boston ultimately fell short to the Cavs in Game 7 of the ECF. Season ending injuries to both Hayward and Kyrie were felt from day one. All this said while reviving Boston, there’s daily speculation lately that Kyrie will eventually leave for the New York Knicks – and all he’s done is silently confirm it.
On more than one occasion, Kyrie expressed his love and admiration for this young Celtics team. Plus, he’s certainly appreciated what he’s been able to accomplish in Boston. His heart seems to be elsewhere, however. You’d imagine anyone with dedication to a team wouldn’t be so misleading with his intentions. Yet, has he been clear all along?
Previously, I highlighted New York being a bigger market for a 26-year-old NBA player with a shoe deal. Add $86 million dollars to that, plus the financial advantage he would have over Boston in New York, that small portion immediately becomes a huge chunk. Not to be minimized, Kyrie glowed about Boston’s future and acknowledged the challenge of competing with teams like Golden State. He quickly added that he would leave roster decisions to management, even if it meant being reunited with LBJ, saying:
“In this business, I’ve kind of experienced it all and I’ve seen a lot, so we’ll see what management decides”
More than likely that wouldn’t fit Kyrie’s future plans. Still, he stuck with the non-committal angle though his silence is screaming louder than his words. Sound familiar, Cleveland?
“Contractually, financially, it doesn’t make any sense” – Kyrie Irving
You read that right folks. Unsurprisingly, Irving was tight-lipped regarding his decision come next off-season, while remaining clear that he has no interest whatsoever to re-sign with Boston.
Break out your calculators folks, we’re gonna do some math:
Irving’s potential max extension = $102 million/5 years if he opts in
Irvings potential max extension = $104 million/5 years if he opts out
Play out next season and become a free agent in 2019 – max contract = $188 million/5 years + potential for a 6th year at $20 million = $208 million
For those keeping score at home, that’s a $86 million, or as much as $106 million difference, and one more year if he waits. Why would Irving take that much less money? Exactly. He wouldn’t. “Real fear” reports will have the Celtics on a year-long wait to see if Irving bolts next summer, something they’d love to avoid. Of course DA will shoot the idea to Kyrie taking less, but Irving would never agree to that. Nor should he. Not many people would leave $106 million or more on the table. Playing in New York with said market could double that for “$wirving”.
From the Work-Horse’s Mouth
You really have to take most rumors with a grain of salt; the NBA is a business after all. Ideas are shared and thoughts are broken down, yet you still can’t really believe it until you see it on ESPN. Or can you? It’s much easier to take these ‘rumors’ as truth when the player in question sheds light on the topic themselves. Choosing words carefully, Tuesday’s press conference was the most telling Kyrie’s had regarding his future with Boston.
There are multiple reports saying Kyrie expressed wanting to play in New York, but nothing straight from him until Tuesday. However, he has mentioned that he “would love to play” with Knicks’ star Kristaps Porzingis and wants to “come home”. Adding to that, Kyrie was quoted as saying:
“I think you guys can feel my attitude is really just redemption next year. Really integrating myself with our team again and really focus on winning a championship. That’s the only thing I’m really worried about. Until I get to that point, then I can’t really answer any questions. I’m pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now.”
If that’s not saying “See ya later, Boston”, I don’t know what could be.
”I want to play for the Knicks”
Although not quoted of having heard that being said, it’s widely believed KI it headed to NY. There are still those who won’t believe it until the press conference of him holding up a Knicks jersey is had. Even then they still might not believe it! All the pieces are in place for him to finally be where he wants with the orange and blue.
Iffy reports, non-committal comments on a contract situation to stay long-term, and press conferences are all things Kyrie has had a part in when revealing his desire to play somewhere else. It was a trade that brought him to Boston. He didn’t chose play here. Come this off-season though, he’ll have the most control of his career that he’s ever had. It looks like that path is leading right to 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY. Danny isn’t the most forgiving GM when cutting ties with loved ones. Don’t be shocked if he decides to trade Kyrie, which won’t be the easiest pill to swallow for Boston. Keep a sick day handy for when Irving lands at JFK this time next year playing for who he’s wanted all along, the New York Knicks. You’ll need it.
Check out the full interview from Kyrie below: