In his first media availability since rumors arose that he wasn’t sold on staying with the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving did little to dissuade the fan base’s worries about said rumors.
When asked about the rumors, Irving said “At the end of the day, I’m going to do what is best for my career.” When pressed on the issue, he said “Ask me on July 1st.”
Irving also said he sees what the New York Knicks, a rumored potential suitor for Irving when he’s a free agent, are doing and that he respects the franchise.
Irving went on to say that there has been “unwarranted speculation about my future” as well as some pointed comments about the industry being “f’d up.”
On a positive note for his current employers, Irving did say his plan for now is to still be a Celtic and “Obviously Boston is still at the head of that race.”
The speculation about Irving’s future in Boston has come up over the last week, following multiple reports that Irving is no longer a lock to stay with the Celtics. Some of that reporting referenced that Irving is no longer as enamored of Boston as he once was and may look to team up with another superstar, possibly Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, elsewhere. Both the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers have been mentioned as teams that could target Irving as a free agent this summer.
Back on October 4th, at a Celtics season ticket-holder event, Irving said “I’ve shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”
Irving was very upfront previously that he would not sign an extension with the Celtics, because of the great financial impact it would have on him. This sparked some worry that he may be looking to make his stay in Boston a short one. But the above statement gave Celtics fans hope that Irving intended to be in green a long time.
Prior to season starting, Irving doubled-down on staying in Boston, when he released a Nike commercial that ended with him saying “My dad is the reason I wear #11. I want to be the reason no one else ever will”, as the camera panned back to show the Celtics retired numbers. It has come out in recent reports that Irving wrote those words himself.
Irving also stated today that “At the end of the day I spent the last eight years trying to do what everybody else wanted me to do in terms of making my decisions and trying to validate through the media, through other personnel, managers, anybody in this business.”
Irving went on to clarify: “What excited me a lot about the beginning of the season was the opportunity to come into this season really just doing what we planned on doing, set a goal and go after it and then see what happens at the end of the season.That was the plan before and that’s still the plan now”
Overall, Irving did little to ease concerns that his commitment to the Celtics has wavered from his preseason statements. He instead made it clear that no one should take a lot of stock in things they read about or hear through the media and that he’ll make his decision this summer. In many ways, this is the gamble every team faces when a player is a pending free agent. You always run the risk of losing that player. As Danny Ainge said yesterday, it’s on the team to continually sell the player that this is the best situation for them.
Put more simply: It’s going to be a long five months until free agency kicks off at the beginning of July. The best thing the Celtics can do is play well, win a lot of games and make a deep playoff run. Boston can still offer Irving the most money, but the real cherry on top will be the chance to compete for championships.
In addition, there was reporting that broke today, via Shams Charania of The Athletic, that Anthony Davis considers the Celtics as a non-preferred destination and views them as a rental situation if they were to trade for him.
This report builds on earlier reporting this week from Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that Davis isn’t sold Irving is staying in Boston and doesn’t view the Celtics as a team Davis wants to land with.
Yahoo Sources: Lakers and Knicks preparing an offer to Pelicans for star Anthony Davis and why Celtics aren’t a desired preference. https://t.co/f47Afbh3d0— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 28, 2019
(The quotes from Kyrie Irving were pulled together from several different Celtics beat writers including Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe and Jay King of The Athletic)