Since the start of the 2018 NBA offseason, rumors and speculations continue to swirl about the potential departure of Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtics next summer. Irving has already made it clear that his decision not to sign a contract extension with the Celtics doesn’t have to do anything with his impending free agency. However, there are still some people who believe that the All-Star point guard will be leaving the Celtics to play somewhere else, including NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.
In an appearance on NBA GameTime (h/t Daily Express), Isiah Thomas said that Kyrie Irving may consider returning “home” to join either the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019 NBA free agency,
“I believe that,” Thomas said. “There’s always the natural pull to go back home and Kyrie being from that area – the Nets and the Knicks – those two teams will have their shot at him. Only because he’s had a healthy respect for the area, people love him in the area and I think he’ll give those organizations the kind of respect that they deserve. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to leave Boston but I do think they will be in play. If they put the right package together and everything falls into place then they’ve got a chance.”
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 13, 2018
The Knicks and the Nets are expected to have enough salary cap space for a maximum contract next offseason. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports recently reported that Irving is the Knicks’ No. 1 target in the 2019 NBA free agency. Successfully acquiring Irving is like hitting two birds with one stone since it could also give them a higher chance of signing Jimmy Butler. In the past months, there has been speculation that Irving and Butler want to play together on one team.
However, to sign both superstars, the Knicks will be needing to make multiple roster moves, including getting rid of Joakim Noah and his lucrative deal. Unlike the Knicks, the Nets are in a strong position to give Butler and Irving max contracts next summer. Having both superstars on their roster will greatly help them in becoming a significant team in the Eastern Conference once again.
As of now, Kyrie Irving is focused on the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Now that he and Gordon Hayward are 100 percent healthy, the Celtics are currently the top favorite to become the new ruler of the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. The outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season is expected to play a major role on Irving’s decision next summer.