NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving Is New York Knicks’ Hands-Down Choice In 2019 Free Agency, Says NBC Sports’ Blakely

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It’s nothing new for reports of Kyrie Irving possibly joining the New York Knicks in the summer of 2019 to make the rounds of the NBA rumor mill. The latest such rumors come from NBC Sports’ Boston Celtics insider, A. Sherrod Blakely, who said in a recent podcast appearance that it’s Irving — and not Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, or any other potential 2019 free agent — whom the Knicks are prioritizing next summer.

As recapped by Bleacher Report, Blakely appeared on the Wednesday edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, where he cited unnamed sources within the Knicks and said that Irving is the player the Knicks are coveting the most as a potential free agent signing.

“I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that — if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer — Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice.”

Irving will be earning a guaranteed $20.1 million in the 2018-19 season and has a player option in his final year, where he could earn $21.3 million in 2019-20 if he chooses to play another year for the Boston Celtics. However, rumors of the 26-year-old point guard joining the New York Knicks have been swirling since July, when Knicks head coach David Fizdale hinted at some “big moves” in store for the summer of 2019. These big moves, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley, were believed by several NBA executives to include a move for Irving if he decides to become a free agent next offseason.

Although it’s far from certain whether Kyrie Irving will sign with the New York Knicks for the 2019-20 NBA season, the team struggled at point guard in 2017-18. Veteran Jarrett Jack and youngsters Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay joined 2017 first-round draft pick Frank Ntilikina in seeing significant minutes at the position. Burke, Mudiay, and Ntilikina will all be returning for the 2018-19 season, while Jack remains unsigned — his one-year deal with the Knicks expired.

In his first year in Boston — after the Cavaliers traded him in a deal that sent Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder to Cleveland — Kyrie Irving helped the Celtics to a 55-27 regular season record, averaging 24.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in 60 games before a knee injury sidelined him in March. With Irving joining Gordon Hayward on the injured list, the Celtics still made it all the way to the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the LeBron James-led Cavs in seven games.