When the young Boston Celtics went on their unexpected playoff run this postseason, it was hard not to imagine what the team would look like with their leader Kyrie Irving on the floor along with them.
Known as a premier playoff performer, Irving was forced to sit out the entirety of Boston’s postseason following midseason knee surgery. With their season now over, the Celtics look ahead at a future that they think is still filled with question marks regarding Irving. However, not with his health but instead, the Celtics fear that Irving may opt out of his player option and leave for the New York Knicks next offseason, according to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix (h/t NBC Sports Boston):
“I think they’re scared. I think they’re scared and should be scared to some degree of Kyrie Irving 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.”
Despite enjoying a stellar season with Boston prior to his surgery, it’s clear the Celtics are still treading carefully regarding the future of Kyrie Irving. His name has been quietly brought up in trade rumors as well, so this could just be a smokescreen that gives Boston justification for potentially dealing away a franchise-altering talent that they just landed last offseason.
This specific report is interesting in that no indications point towards any feelings of tension between Irving and the club but the Celtics can still see him walking next summer for some unknown reason, perhaps because he played his high school basketball in the area.
The Celtics are not only a better team than the Knicks currently, but they have set themselves up as a potential dynasty for years to come. Perhaps the emergence of Boston’s other young pieces and specifically point guard Terry Rozier has Irving rethinking his future in Boston but that wouldn’t make much sense considering he is still the clear-cut franchise centerpiece.
Irving wanted to leave Cleveland to lead his own team in the first place, something he will have the privilege to do in Boston despite the emerging talent. Whether or not the Celtic’s qualms hold any weight, Irving’s upcoming contract year has become all the more intriguing and is a situation worth monitoring leading up to the 2019 free agency period.