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Sorting out the Kyrie Irving rumors

Recent headlines suggest that Kyrie Irving’s future with the Celtics is uncertain, but what’s actually been reported?

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

I have some questions.

This week, Chris Mannix stated that he believed the Celtics may be scared of Kyrie Irving’s upcoming free agency because ex-Cavalier teammates said that he talked to them about the prospect of playing for the Knicks.

We know Irving has roots in the New Jersey area, as he still resides there and considers New York home. He was even recently seen there while recovering from his nose surgery.

This buzz is coming on the heels of LeBron James’s reported interest in talking with the Celtics this summer, and the legendary Mike Gorman suggesting that a Kyrie Irving trade was not crazy.

Taken at the face value of the recent headlines, this could be hinting that Kyrie Irving may potentially be on shaky grounds in his commitment level to Boston for the long term.

But let’s take a step back.

Pay attention to the actual quotes

For both Mannix and Gorman’s story, the context of their quotes are very important. None of them are actually “reporting” this as actual news, they’re speculating based on their opinions. Now, obviously the opinions of Mannix and Gorman are a lot more eduacted than mine or yours, but they’re still not based on any concrete facts because the idea of moving Kyrie requires some subjective leap in logic that there’s not enough evidence to back up.

Let’s take a look at an excerpt of Gorman’s quote again:

“Certainly, if you’re going to trade Kyrie you get excited because there’s a whole lot coming back, Danny [Ainge] doesn’t like to put the untouchable label on anybody. I do think [Jayson] Tatum is untouchable myself. It would take some unbelievable offer to get him away from Boston right now. But I think everyone else is in play to some degree..... Again, if you’re talking about the big guy from New Orleans [Anthony Davis] then you’re going to have to be talking about a really really, good player going back the other way. And that’s the only other player that the Celtics really would put everyone on the table for.”

Taken in whole, he’s merely saying that Ainge doesn’t consider anyone untradeable and that if Irving were traded it would be for a big haul, listing Anthony Davis as an example. If someone asked you on the street what it would take to get Irving, would it be much different than this?

Now, here’s Mannix’s quote:

I think [the Celtics] are 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.”

The obvious question here is the timeline of when Kyrie was talking about his Knicks interest. Mannix’s sources point to the fact that he talked about wanting to play with the Knicks while he was with the Cavaliers. If this was an opinion Irving held before he formalized his trade request and played a year in Boston, then this story becomes less interesting because we have no idea if this is actually how Irving feels today. The fact that Mannix also said that “he thinks” the Celtics are scared is acknowledgement that he hasn’t been able to corroborate it strongly enough to say it as fact. Without the timeline or any substantial evidence confirming the Celtics’ level of concern, there’s really nothing we can take from this outside of it being a fun thought exercise.

But just remember...

The Celtics are capable of anything. They traded the most beloved player in Boston and the number-one pick in the same offseason. Ainge and his staff’s only concern is about improving the team, so it’s not out of the question that if given an opportunity to improve, they’ll consider all options. But based off what we know as fact, there’s nothing concrete suggesting Irving would seriously consider leaving or that the Celtics are interested in ending the relationship.

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