Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and his impending free agency has been one of the most talked about topics in the league in the past months. Celtics President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge already revealed that they will do everything they can to bring Irving back in the 2019 NBA free agency. However, as of now, it remains a big question mark where Irving will re-sign with the Celtics or take his talent somewhere else.
After committing to sign a long-term deal with the Celtics last summer, Kyrie Irving had a change of heart in the middle of the 2018-19 NBA season and already wants to keep all his options open when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. Though the Celtics have one of the most talented rosters in the league and are the only team that can offer Irving a five-year max contract, NBA insider Jeff Goodman said in a recent appearance on The Herd Now podcast that he doesn’t see the All-Star point guard returning to Boston in the 2019 NBA free agency. Goodman went as far as saying that several people in the Celtics’ organization, including Danny Ainge, wouldn’t be heartbroken if Irving leaves next summer.
“I’d be surprised if he stays in Boston,” Goodman said, as quoted by NESN. “You see his body language. You hear enough smoke, you know something’s going on here. Obviously, Kyrie’s kinda moody, he’s got a tight inner circle. So, I’m not sure how much validity some of (the rumors have), but again, I don’t expect him to be in Boston. You could see it in the locker room and with his teammates, that they almost don’t know how to take to Kyrie Irving. I’ve known him a long time and, honestly, he’s become tough to like.”
Kyrie Irving leaving Boston shouldn’t cause the Celtics to panic https://t.co/nhuy6KUXdR
— The Celtics Wire (@TheCelticsWire) May 23, 2019
Kyrie Irving has failed to build a good relationship with his Celtics’ teammates since he arrived in Boston in the summer of 2017. Things just got worse during the 2018-19 NBA season when Irving was seen blaming their young core whenever the Celtics lose or underperform. It’s the same young players that led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals 2018 and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers when Irving and Gordon Hayward suffered season-ending injuries.
The departure of Kyrie Irving will deeply hurt the Celtics, especially knowing the trade assets they gave up just to acquire him from the Cavaliers. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Celtics will need to start from the bottom. If Irving leaves, the Celtics could focus on building a title-contending team around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They could immediately fill the void left by Irving by re-signing Terry Rozier or going after the likes of Kemba Walker and Mike Conley in the 2019 NBA offseason.