One of the recent storylines of the NBA’s dramatic postseason was the presumed hostility between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.
Although absolutely no facts were ever presented, sports commentators and pundits presumed that either Irving would not want to remain in Boston due to the breakout play of Terry Rozier (who is also a point guard) or that the Celtics would get rid of Irving now that Rozier established himself as a legitimate starter. Irving would undoubtedly bring back a star player in any trade.
Since those rumors arose, Danny Ainge made it clear that Irving isn’t going anywhere (at least for the 2018-2019 campaign) and the All-Star cleared up any question marks about his loyalty to his teammates.
"For me, I'm just glad everyone got to learn how special they were on a bigger stage,” Irving told ESPN’s Chris Forsberg about Boston’s postseason run. “I’d been talking about how great [the younger players] were. Some of their numbers probably didn't look as appealing to the outside-looker, but they were just -- they were always locked in. And then when they were afforded the opportunity to take the reins of the team, you saw them take full advantage of it. You saw guys that literally are going to be stars in this league for years to come.”
Despite the fact that his supporting cast will most likely continue to get better in the upcoming years, Irving will not be tied down in one spot quite yet.
In fact, he’s incredibly opposed to the idea of re-signing an extension in Boston this summer.
"Contractually, financially, [an extension] just doesn't make any sense," Irving said, per Forsberg.
What his words really meant
Although his comments are enough to freak out Celtics fans everywhere, his decision makes sense when peeling back the layers. The All-Star is eligible to receive a four-year, $107 million deal if he signs this summer. But, if he plays the upcoming season and then opts out of the final year of his current deal, he will make $80 million more on a max deal next summer.
Therefore, it’s a no-brainer from a financial perspective.
"My hope is that maybe we could limit it to maybe one question a day about what I'm doing next year," Irving joked to reporters. "That's my hope. But obviously I can't really control that.”
Overall, Irving only has a couple things on his mind: getting fully healthy and winning a championship next season.
"I think you guys can feel my attitude is really just redemption next year,” he said. “Really integrating myself with our team again and really focus on winning a championship. That's the only thing I'm really worried about. Until I get to that point, then I can't really answer any questions. I'm pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won't happen now."
He added, "The focus is solely on winning a championship next year. I don't think [impending free agency will] necessarily have an effect. I'm doing my best to kind of deflect all that and focus on what's in front of us.”
With Irving and Gordon Hayward presumably returning next season, the Celtics will likely be the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. While Irving’s future with the team will become a storyline as the days roll by, he will seemingly do his best to avoid creating a distraction.