With new rumors swirling about point guard Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston, a league source with ties to the All-Star point guard said Irving has given no indication that he will back down from his October proclamation that he will re-sign with the Celtics at season’s end.
The source added that Irving could change his mind before July 1, but added that if he does, it almost certainly would not be to reunite with LeBron James, calling that notion “a joke.”
The partnership between Irving and James in Cleveland came to a jarring end when Irving requested to be traded and ended up on the Celtics in August 2017. But the two have mended fences.
Earlier this month, Irving called James and apologized for his own immaturity when he was a young player on the Cavaliers, and also asked for advice on how to lead this young Celtics team. Then last week James tagged Irving in an Instagram video of himself playing a song called “Rewind” in which there are cryptic lyrics such as “If I could bring it back, I’ll probably press rewind.”
In his weekly radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge briefly addressed the rumors surrounding Irving, saying he was still optimistic that Irving will re-sign with the Celtics this summer.
“I talk to Kyrie on a daily basis and see him all the time,” Ainge said. “None of this stuff that’s out in the media this week that people have brought to my attention really matters to me. Just, we need to sell our team, our players. We need to sell free agents-to-be that are out there, potential free agents, our own players that this is a place they want to be on a regular basis.
“Of course we want to keep Kyrie and, you know, time will tell.”
Irving has been sidelined with a left hip strain this week, so he has not spoken to the media since recent reports emerged from Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report that he may have interest in becoming a Laker. Coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday that Irving would likely accompany the team to New York, but that his status for Friday’s game against the Knicks was unclear.
There are several layers to Irving’s situation. In addition to him being an important cog in Boston’s future, he also is viewed as a key player in Boston’s pursuit of All-Star forward Anthony Davis.
Davis and his camp formally and publicly requested a trade from the Pelicans last weekend, igniting a feeding frenzy for one of the game’s superstars. ESPN reported Thursday that Davis’s camp is informing teams that if Davis is traded to a team other than the Lakers, he would leave after he becomes a free agent in 2020, and that this holds true even with the Celtics because Davis is unsure about whether Irving will re-sign with them.
Of course, Irving’s decision would come a full year before Davis’s, and the Celtics remain confident that with Irving in the fold and the championship environment they are creating, Davis would want to remain in Boston long-term.
A league rule that forbids teams from acquiring two players who have signed designated player rookie extensions (Irving was the first) will keep Boston from being able to trade for Davis prior to next Thursday’s deadline, but there is nothing stopping the two sides from negotiating now.
According to a league source, the Celtics and Pelicans have not had trade discussions this week, but they have in the past, and New Orleans remains well aware of Boston’s interest in Davis as well as the treasure chest of assets it possesses.
Ainge said during his radio interview that he has reached out to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to discuss the fact that their names have been circulating in trade rumors. But there have been no direct reports connecting them to a deal for Davis, just media speculation that the Pelicans would seek one or both of Boston’s young rising stars in a potential deal.
“I think they’re very mature kids,” Ainge said on The Sports Hub. “They listened to what I had to say. I think they get it. They understand it.
“Part of it, I feel obligated to help educate these guys on the world we live in in basketball, the business side of basketball, the media side, just all the reports that come out and try to prevent them from being distracted.”
Tatum, for his part, said Wednesday that he wasn’t bothered by it.
“My job is to control what I can control,” said Tatum, who recently lightheartedly acknowledged that he would trade himself in a deal for Davis. “I mean, I can’t control what happens, so just got to go out there and focus on today. Just play the game. See what happens.”