The absence of Kyrie Irving is undeniably a huge loss for the Boston Celtics. If he had played in the NBA Playoffs 2018, most people believe the Celtics could be the one playing against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and not LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. His nearing return is expected to make the Celtics the top favorite team to fully dominate the Eastern Conference next season.
Few games before the 2017-18 NBA season comes to an end, rumors started to circulate that there are some concerns about the future of Kyrie Irving in Boston, especially when the summer of 2019 arrives. Irving has an opt-out clause in his contract that will enable him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 offseason. According to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (h/t NBC Sports Boston), the Celtics are scared that Irving may consider leaving Boston to sign with the New York Knicks as a free agent.
“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.”
With their goal to end their playoff drought and return to title contention, it will not be a surprise if the Knicks go after Kyrie Irving in 2019 free agency. They obviously need to surround Kristaps Porzingis with at least one superstar in order to become a significant team in the Eastern Conference once again. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Mannix opened up the possibility that Irving may have already changed his mind about leaving the Celtics.
As of now, even a blind man could say that the Celtics are a much better team than the Knicks. Despite not having Gordon Hayward and Irving in the recent playoffs, they managed to return to the Eastern Conference Finals and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Pairing Irving and Hayward with the Celtics young core will undeniably make Boston a dangerous team to face next season.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are still in the middle of the rebuilding process, and even with the potential addition of Irving, it remains questionable if they could easily dominate the East. Porzingis’ recent injury could also be one of the major reasons why Irving will choose to stay with the Celtics than join the Knicks.