In a bizarre New York Times interview that made headlines for his repeated claim that the Earth is, in fact, flat, Boston Celtics All-Star Guard Kyrie Irving also addressed his future with the team that he joined in 2017 after a blockbuster trade that sent Celtics’ favorite Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But his thoughts on the subject may not have been what Celtics fans had in mind.
Irving played 60 games for the Celtics in the 2017-2018 season, before finally succumbing to a nagging knee injury. According to statistics provided by Basketball Reference, the 26-year-old, seven-year veteran paced the Celtics with 24.4 points per game — the only player on the Boston squad to average more than 20 points.
But Irving is signed with the Celtics for only one more season, at a base salary of $21,329,750, according to Spotrac. Once the 2018-2019 season wraps up, Irving becomes an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
Yahoo! Sports basketball writer Chris Mannix speculated on Thursday that the Celtics brass are “scared” that Irving will not sign a contract extension, and will head to the rival New York Knicks, according to a report by the New York Post. The Celtics have the ability to ink him to a five-year, $200 million “max” contract, if Irving decides he wants to stay in Boston.
But Mannix claimed that when he played in Cleveland, Irving told teammates that he hoped to play in New York at some point in his career. But Cleveland traded him to Boston instead.
In February, Irving talked about playing with the Celtics for “years,” according to a report by the Boston Globe. Starting next season, Irving will be paired with the Celtics other big-ticket offseason acquisition from 2017, Gordon Hayward, who missed all of the 2017-2018 season with a devastating ankle injury suffered just five minutes into the first game of the season.
But when asked in the wide-ranging New York Times interview by reporter Sopan Deb about whether he planned to remain in Boston after the end of his current contract. Irving game an answer that did nothing to clarify the situation.
“Well, I mean I know that question is going to come up a lot over the next year, just based upon where my deal is,” Irving told the Times reporter. “And, you know, that time will arise and when it does, I think I’ll have a better, clear, concise answer for a lot of people that are going to ask. Yeah, I just have to take it as being present with the Boston Celtics. You know, and just going into this year with the mindset of trying to win a championship.”
If Irving plans to leave after the coming season, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge could wheel and deal in the offseason once again, trying to get as much as he can in trade for Irving, rather than wait for him to depart as a free agent, WEEI reporter John Tomase hinted in his article about Irving’s latest remarks.
Even Mike Gorman, who has broadcast Celtics games on local television since 1981, believes that a trade of Irving may not be a far-fetched scenario.
“Certainly, if you’re going to trade Kyrie you get excited because there’s a whole lot coming back,” Gorman told the Celtics Blog. “Danny 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.”