The trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday will have a ripple effect across the NBA, and one of the most interesting storylines to follow will be the potential impact it has on Kyrie Irving’s future. As of very recently, Irving reportedly expressed a desire to play with Davis.
David Aldridge of The Athletic reports that sources have told him “for months” that Irving wants to play with Davis. Of course, Davis is now teammates with LeBron James. The primary reason Irving forced his way out of Cleveland was that he was tired of being in LeBron’s shadow, but perhaps his mindset has changed after a tumultuous season with the Boston Celtics.
Irving’s top choice is said to be the Brooklyn Nets, but there has also been a lot of talk about him wanting to team up with Kevin Durant. With Durant expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season while rehabbing from a torn Achilles, it would not be a surprise if Irving adjusts his approach to free agency accordingly.
LeBron may have hinted on social media recently that he wants to play with Irving again, but it’s unclear if that feeling is mutual. A trio of LeBron, Irving and Davis would be tough for Western Conference teams to stop.
The Brooklyn Nets’ potential acquisition of Kyrie Irving would come at a cost, according to a report.
SNY’s Ian Begley says if the Nets sign Irving, D’Angelo Russell would be unlikely to remain with the team.
Brooklyn has big plans this summer and already made a trade to clear significant cap space for a second free agent. Irving is reportedly interested in the team and may have switched agents with the idea of moving to Brooklyn.
If Brooklyn were to get the sense they could sign both Irving and another free agent, like Kevin Durant — which would be a dream scenario — they might consider rescinding their qualifying offer to Russell, who is a restricted free agent. Rescinding their offer would give them the salary cap space needed to sign two big-time players. If Russell becomes available, the Indiana Pacers are among the numerous teams that reportedly would have interest in signing him.
Russell is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game and made his first All-Star team. The 23-year-old former No. 2 pick is an emerging player, while Irving, 27, is more established in the league.
The 2018-2019 NBA season is in the books, and now free agency looms in the coming weeks. The class is absolutely loaded with talented players who could change the league. While there are obvious names, there are also some less visible players that have the opportunity to hit the open market and make a real impact, whether it’s by staying with their current team or seeking a new home. Much will revolve around the stars, but the market is deep, and there are a lot of exciting storylines to follow as teams look to chase down the Toronto Raptors to become the next NBA champion.
Here are ten free agents whose journeys this summer will be among the most intriguing.
10. Khris Middleton, F
Middleton has become an enormous part of the Milwaukee Bucks’ rise to the top of the Eastern Conference, but if they want to keep him, they’re going to have to pony up the cash. Middleton has hinted that he won’t give the Bucks a hometown discount, and his comments all but confirmed his intention to decline his player option. A premier three-and-D forward, he can help many teams, but his best fit may be Milwaukee — if they pay him.
The Celtics may no longer be the favorite to re-sign Kyrie Irving this summer, but that does not mean the All-Star point guard is completely opposed to remaining in Boston.
Irving has been repeatedly linked to both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, which makes sense given the tumultuous season he just had with the Celtics. However, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald was told by multiple sources that Boston remains in contention to re-sign Irving. One of the reasons for the speculation that Irving planned to leave the Celtics was that he wanted to team up with Kevin Durant, but that plan may change now that Durant is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season while recovering from a torn Achilles.
It was not that long ago that the Celtics’ plan was said to be re-signing Irving and trading for Anthony Davis, and it’s possible Danny Ainge is still focused on that. Reports have indicated that Boston is going to pursue Davis regardless of what Irving decides, but Irving may be more inclined to stick around if they can pull off the trade.
Irving has parted ways with his longtime agent, and many have speculated that the move could be a strong hint as to where he plans to sign. It would be a big surprise at this point if he decides to remain with the Celtics.
Kyrie Irving has parted ways with his longtime agent as he heads into free agency, according to a report.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Irving and agent Jeff Wechsler have parted ways. Woj further says Irving is expected to join Roc Nation Sports.
On the surface, Irving’s agent switch seems to have some initial implications. First off, going back to 2014, Irving was thinking of firing Wechsler reportedly over a disagreement about his future. Irving wanted to leave the Cavaliers while Wechsler reportedly wanted him to stay with the team. He did stay, which worked out well as LeBron James joined the team and they won a championship before Irving forced his way out.
If we are applying the same issue in the past to the present, perhaps Wechsler was trying to convince Irving to remain with the Celtics, which are making a run at Anthony Davis. Maybe Irving wants to leave and wants someone who will support that vision. Joining Roc Nation Sports, which is the agency Jay Z started and sold his ownership stake in the Brooklyn Nets to found, has led to speculation Irving may end up with the Nets.
Irving reportedly told the Celtics on Wednesday he would out of his contract and become a free agent.
If Kyrie Irving decides to remain with the Boston Celtics next season, it will be by way of a new contract.
As expected, Irving is not opting into the final year of his current deal, which would pay him $21.3 million next year. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that he informed the Celtics of the decision on Wednesday.
Celtics' Kyrie Irving is not opting into his $21.3 million deal for next season and will become a free agent eligible to sign a new contract with Boston or elsewhere, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2019
Boston has expected this ahead of Irving’s option date on Thursday. For Irving, it is an opt-in so no paperwork necessary to enter free agency. https://t.co/8ecykuIyi7
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2019
This is largely a technicality for Irving, as he would have chosen not to opt into the final year of the contract whether he plans to leave Boston or not.
Irving verbally committed to re-sign with Boston prior to the 2018-19 season, but a lot changed over the course of the year. The Celtics fell well short of expectations, and teammates spoke out about how Irving is difficult to play with. The star point guard is now said to have his sights set on playing for a different Eastern Conference team, though we know how quickly things can pivot during the NBA offseason.
The Boston Celtics are hoping to have a huge offseason that ends with them keeping Kyrie Irving and acquiring Anthony Davis, but the first task does not have to be completed in order for the team to remain committed to the second.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated said on his “The Crossover” podcast this week that the Celtics are planning to pursue a trade for Davis even if Irving decides to sign with another team. That would be risky considering Davis can opt out of his contract after next season, but Celtics GM Danny Ainge said recently that he is always going to take those types of risks.
Asking price could still be a factor, as Boston may not be willing to include young superstar Jayson Tatum in a deal for Davis if there’s a risk of the star big man being a one-year rental. With other teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks expected to be in on the bidding, Ainge may eventually decide including Tatum is a deal-breaker.
Irving appears to be leaning toward signing with one team in particular, and that team is not the Celtics. Unless Boston can acquire another superstar like Kevin Durant, Davis seems unlikely to want to play there. That in itself won’t prevent a deal from happening, but it could discourage the Celtics.