As one of the top prospective free agents this summer, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics has been the subject of many a rumor about his potential destination in the offseason. While teams such as the New York Knicks are still considered to be a likely landing spot for the All-Star point guard, a new report alleges that Irving’s off-court behavior and often lackluster play during the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks have made a number of teams more reluctant to sign him as a free agent than they were in the past.
In a report published Saturday by the Boston Herald, Steve Bulpett wrote that the talk surrounding Irving had only “gotten louder” during the NBA’s Draft Combine earlier this week, as representatives from the NBA’s 30 teams scouted prospective rookies to select during next month’s annual draft. Citing unnamed sources, Bulpett noted that the “most interesting” rumor from the combine is that “some” teams that have been believed to be interested in signing Irving this summer are “now a great deal more wary.”
“Based on the way things played out with the Celtics this season and Irving’s role both off the court all year and on it in the playoff loss to Milwaukee, certain clubs are concerned about putting too many eggs in his basket right away,” Bulpett added.
Although Bulpett did not name any particular teams, he also mentioned that there are two teams “for certain” that are only planning to sign Kyrie Irving if they could land another top-tier free agent and if that player specifically says he wants to team up with Irving. Both teams, he stressed, are thought to be looking at separate players as their top free agent targets this summer.
As for Boston, Bulpett wrote that the Celtics are not among the teams that are apparently having second thoughts about Irving, as they are still planning to do what they could to bring the 27-year-old point guard back for the 2019-20 NBA season.
Ahead of free agency, Kyrie Irving "has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers," per @WindhorstESPN.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2019
"That door, which was deadbolted, has now been un-deadbolted and is now cracked open. It might even be opening more by the day." pic.twitter.com/NMGhXhnsgr
According to Brad Botkin of CBS Sports, Irving’s behavior away from the court during the 2018-19 season has indeed been a “fair concern.” He posited that the former Cleveland Cavaliers star, who won his only NBA championship alongside LeBron James in 2016, has brought the Celtics down more than he helped them off the court this past season. While it was noted that Irving’s statistics pointed to a very productive season, Botkin added that the six-time All-Star didn’t do favors by criticizing teammates and “[making] mountains out of molehills” by overreacting to bad games and other unfavorable situations.
Regarding the teams that have supposedly become “wary” of Irving, Botkin said that he isn’t sure if the Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, or Los Angeles Lakers are among them, but added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Irving signs with either one of those teams in the event they offer him a contract this summer.