When Kyrie Irving sat down with the Cavaliers in the summer of 2017, he gave Dan Gilbert a list of several teams he wished to be traded to. The New York Knicks, a franchise Irving has reportedly long sought after and even told his former teammates about, topped that list.
Kyrie was ultimately traded to the Boston Celtics, one team not on the list Kyrie gave to the Cavaliers. However, it’s widely presumed he added the Celtics prior to the trade.
When the Celtics took on Kyrie they knew that they only had two seasons to convince the young star to stay. Irving now sits at the helm of a young team loaded with potential and loaded with talent. Boston made it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to Kyrie’s former team in a tightly contested seven-game series. They did all of it without the presence of both Irving and star forward Gordon Hayward.
Irving produced an exceptional first season with the Celtics, putting up 24.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game in 60 games played. Despite his individual success as well as the team’s overall success, reports indicate that the Celtics are concerned about his impending free agency in 2019.
Talk on the Street
Here is the full quote from Yahoo Sport’s Chris Mannix who broke the news earlier today.
“I think they’re scared. I think they’re scared and should be scared to some degree of Kyrie walking in 2019. I know he had a great year, but you know there are people in Cleveland that will tell you that the Knicks should be considered a real threat for Kyrie Irving. Because Kyrie had talked about it—about playing with the Knicks with some players in that Cleveland locker room—from what I was told.”
It would make sense that Kyrie looks at the Knicks favorably. He grew up in New Jersey and the Knicks will have a ton of cap space available by 2019. Though the team does not have nearly as bright a future as Boston’s, Irving would get his opportunity to be the lone shining star on a rebuilding franchise. This is something he has openly desired and was a major reason for his departure from Lebron James and the Cavaliers.
Ultimately the Celtics should be the favorites to re-sign Kyrie next summer. He has seen what the team can do without him. Imagine how formidable the team will be with an active Kyrie and Hayward. Money shouldn’t be an issue as Boston will offer Irving a max contract level deal by 2019.
The concerns are very real and present, but they shouldn’t cause Danny Ainge to make a panic deal now. The team can offer Irving more than enough reason to stay on board long-term.