The Boston Celtics could be in store for a fantastic season in 2018-2019, as Brad Stevens’ team boasts impressive depth and talent when factoring in the return of both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from season-ending injuries. While experts may differ on just how tantalizing Boston might be for the upcoming season, nearly everyone agrees that the Celtics are in fantastic shape moving forward, at least in the event that their top-tier talent elects to stick around in the future.
To that, Irving is among the players that can reach free agency in the summer of 2019 if he chooses to do so and, given that he has a player option for the 2019-20 campaign that would pay him “only” $21.3 million, that seems like a safe assumption. That means that Irving rumors have been swirling for some time and, even if the Celtics play fantastic basketball this season, the whispers won’t fully die until he puts pen to paper on a new contract, either in Boston or elsewhere.
There was even more fuel thrown on the fire this week and, this time, it came from A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. The Celtics insider visited with the Bulls Talk Podcast and he shed a bit of light on a potentially intriguing future destination for Irving in the form of the New York Knicks (h/t Bleacher Report).
“I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization,” Blakely said. “They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice.”
Of course, it comes as no surprise that the Knicks would be seeking the services of Irving. The All-Star point guard spent his developmental years in nearby New Jersey and, more importantly, Irving is a tremendous basketball player that is also quite popular among fans. New York will (obviously) be in the mix for any top-tier free agent that considers joining the Knicks next summer but, with no long-term point guard in place (if the Knicks believe Frank Ntilikina is an off-ball player), the partnership makes sense on a practical level.
It is worth noting that New York’s reported interest doesn’t inherently mean that Irving will flee Boston, or that he would have any interest in joining the Knicks at all. Still, it appears the basketball world can add another suitor for Irving in free agency, even if New York’s reported pursuit was always a likely outcome.