Kyrie Irving will enter free agency this summer when he opts out of the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics and if multiple reports are to be believed, the point guard is likely to look for pastures new ahead of next season. The six-time NBA All-Star will not be short of suitors with numerous teams putting him high on their summer shopping list.
The Celtics point guard had verbally committed to re-signing with the Boston franchise in October but after a disappointing campaign, which saw them finish as the number four seed in the regular season and then get dumped out in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Irving looks to be on his way out.
Irving has refused to commit to the Celtics and indicated that he will make a decision post July 1 when he becomes a free agent. According to Ian Begley of SNY, people around the point guard have described the chances of him returning to Boston as a free agent as “low”. The New York Knicks are being touted as one of his potential destinations but in recent days the Brooklyn Nets have emerged as the frontrunners for his signature.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is keen to retain Irving beyond the summer but is currently in the dark with regard to his point guard’s plans, he told ESPN Wednesday: “I don’t know. There’s not much I can say about that, honestly, but there’s ongoing conversations.”
Ainge, however, has no regrets about signing Irving via a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. He admits that it was a risk worth taking and is clear the team will move on to the next deal whether the point guard stays or leaves the franchise this summer.
“There’s always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risk,” Ainge said during a recent interview. “We made a risk by trading for Kyrie and, no matter what happens with Kyrie, I’ll never regret that. You just move on to the next deal.”
Irving had a good regular season by his standards, but was not at his best during the playoffs, especially against the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference semifinals. He came under severe criticism, more so because the same team devoid of Irving had made the East finals last season. But Ainge has defended the guard, as he believes the entire team should shoulder the blame and not one person.
“It’s unfortunate that one person gets credit or blame for a team’s failures,” Ainge added. “We had a lot of reasons the team did not succeed this year. Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not any more than anybody else.”
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