Kyrie Irving spoke at length in February about the rumors swirling around his future in the NBA. He called those whispers “unwarranted commentary,” while reminding reporters that the decision to sign with a team would be his and his alone.
When asked if he still planned to re-sign with Boston, the point guard said, “Ask me July 1.”
The commentary has done anything but cease in the months since. The Celtics’ frustrating season and untimely playoff exit raised even more questions about where Irving will be plying his trade next season, with one analyst suggesting that the other Boston players would “help him pack” if he signed elsewhere.
Irving can exercise a player option for the 2019-20 season, or decline it for unrestricted free agency. He’s been linked to a move, alongside Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, to the New York Knicks. Other reports tie him to a return to LeBron James’s side, this time with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The whispers won’t stop until Irving inks a new contract, in Boston or another NBA destination. Free agency begins on July 1.
Here’s what NBA experts are saying about the point guard’s future:
Brian Windhorst, ESPN
On Irving signing with the Lakers
As time passes here, I would’ve said that this is impossible for many months. But as time passes here and as the possibility exists that Jason Kidd could be hired as the Lakers coach, I think the possibility of Kyrie and LeBron reuniting — that door, which was deadbolted, has been undeadbolted and has now been cracked open … It might even be opening more by the day. And I say that just because I think it’s on Kyrie’s radar, it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers.
Ramona Shelburne, ESPN
I can just see a world in which he goes to the Phoenix Suns, where that is such a great fit for him. Look, we tried this this year where Kyrie goes into a situation where he tries to be a leader, he tries to carry a team to the next level, to a championship — it didn’t work. He couldn’t do it. If anything, you reset things where expectations are lower and you can have more of an impact on the culture. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about the Knicks and there’s been discussion about the Nets. I don’t really see how he fits in Brooklyn without them having to trade one of their backcourt, right?
Frank Isola, The Athletic
The Lakers have a better roster and the fourth-overall pick. The Pelicans can find an attractive deal with the Lakers. Or [New Orleans general manager David] Griffin may start having conversations with Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge, who has a young and talented roster plus first-round picks to trade. Ainge, according to sources, wants to re-sign Irving and believes he will do just that if the Celtics acquire Davis.
Stephen A. Smith, ESPN
On Irving re-joining James in Los Angeles
From what I’m told, it’s not going to happen. I got a text message from folks close to Kyrie’s family, within the hour, as we were teasing this subject. Quote: ‘There is no way in hell he’s going to LA. I don’t give a damn what anybody says, knock that down for us right now please. He ain’t going to LA.’ That’s what they say.
On Irving signing with the New York Knicks
From everything that I’ve been hearing over the last few days, Kyrie Irving is heading to New York City. Kyrie Irving is heading to Madison Square Garden with Kevin Durant. People in his inner circle are trying to bring the Nets into the mix, but clearly New York is the destination. The likelihood is it will be MSG.
According to folks I’ve spoken to, they’d put chances at 95 percent that KD and Kyrie come to New York next season. With those two personalities, folks refuse to say 100 percent.
Jalen Rose, ESPN
Kyrie Irving is a ball-dominating, isolation type of player. They used to be team where Al Horford, their center, led them in assists. That was their style. Now they’ve chosen to give the ball to Kyrie to take them home. He’s shown that he can’t be the best player on a contending team. He’s done in Boston. And you ready for this? His teammates will help him pack.
David Aldridge, The Athletic
I’ve heard that Davis wouldn’t completely rule out staying with the Celtics without Irving, but the odds of him re-upping in that scenario are significantly lower.