NEW YORK — Last October, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving announced to a group of season ticket holders that he planned to re-sign with the team this summer, seemingly putting an end to a season of speculation that figured to follow him.
But this season has not quite gone as planned for the Celtics, who enter Friday’s game against the Knicks tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference. Over the past week, there have been reports suggesting that Irving was seriously considering leaving Boston at season’s end, perhaps even to join LeBron James and the Lakers.
A league source told the Globe Thursday that Irving had given no indication that he planned to back out of his commitment to the team, and that if he did leave, it would not be to go to Los Angeles.
On Friday, Irving — who had not been available to the media this week because he was sidelined with a strained hip — was able to address the rumors himself. The 5-minute, 20-second session took twists and turns, with Irving initially sounding like a player whose plan to re-sign with the Celtics had changed before later saying that Boston remains “at the head of the race.”
Even as he shifted his tone and messaging, though, his frustration about addressing his free agency was apparent throughout.
Here is a full transcript of his comments.
On speculation about his future, and whether he has wavered from his Boston commitment:
“Well, at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career. And that’s just where it stands. My focus this season is winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. Obviously we had goals coming into this season, and the primary goal is to win a championship. So that’s where my focus is.”
On whether his mind-set has shifted from his original commitment:
“Ask me July 1 [when free agency begins].”
On the Knicks trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks, a deal that could allow New York to have space to sign two max-salary free agents this summer:
“I respect the Knicks organization. Obviously they’re making moves to position themselves for this upcoming summer. So I wish them the best.”
On the likelihood that Knicks fans will chant for him Friday night in New York:
“I started playing this game without the fans, without the money. So I’m just excited to play a game that I love and do it with my teammates.”
Has your message shifted?
“What do you mean?”
Before the season, you said you intended to re-sign with the Celtics. Now you’re saying to ask you on July 1:
“Nah, I’m just going to do what’s best for me. That’s what it really comes down to. Obviously this has become an entertainment thing for everybody. So somebody else is asking for a trade and I’m thrown into that, and uncertainty comes back on me.
“At the end of the day, I don’t live in this little hub. Some people call me about this dumb [expletive], and of course my name [keeps getting] thrown in this. I’m not worried about a reputation, I’m not worried about a legacy to leave. I’m just trying to be a human being, trying to make the best decision for me and my family.
“So obviously things this season haven’t gone as I planned, and that’s part of being on a team where you’re still trying to figure things out. So I’m always going to be mature about that, professional, come to do my job every single day and really just see what happens. And that’s what it really comes down to.”
On why he decided to announce in October that he’d remain a Celtic:
“I think it was just the excitement, feeling emotionally invested coming off an injury last season trying to prove something, trying to be very much of a team-oriented player, which I am naturally.
“But at the end of the day, I spent the last eight years trying to do what everybody else wanted me to do in terms of making my decisions and trying to validate through the media, through other personnel, managers, anybody in this business. And I don’t owe anybody [expletive].
“So for me, I think the confidence I have in myself and my abilities, I want to be able to control what I want to control. I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of our pieces.
“That’s what excited me a lot about the beginning of the season, was the opportunity to come into this season really just doing what we planned on doing, set a goal and go after it and then see what happens at the end of the season. That was the plan before and that’s still the plan now. Obviously Boston is still at the head of that race. That’s just where it stands.”
On facing internal pressure about his commitment:
“I mean, this is like college recruitment all over again. So, I don’t know, like, I don’t know. This is just weird. This is a new position for me to be in, answering all these questions, seeing all this stuff that I’m trying to avoid, and it’s just a distraction.
“It’s crazy how stories and things and story lines can seep into a locker room. You guys are part of the destruction of locker rooms. That’s just what it is.
“This is an entertainment industry. I don’t live for this entertainment. I don’t live for this talking to everybody every single day about my life and my decisions. I would just hope that everybody would respect that. That’s really basically it.
“I’m a normal human being at the end of the day. I don’t want to answer all these questions about my future all the time. You know, it’s unfair to me, because I have a focus to really help these guys grow as individuals and really help this team be successful. When it starts getting out of hand and people start getting attacked personally, he-said, she-said, that’s so fifth-grade and elementary.
“This industry is just so F’d up. Like, it’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who says what’s best for him? It doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary and of course it’s still going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that.
“I’m a professional at the end of the day. I’m not going to disrespect anybody, but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family, so . . .”