Kyrie Irving had a press conference the other day to promote his new movie. But all of the questions from the Boston media surrounded his health, his contract status and the impending free agency decision from LeBron James. To put it mildly, Irving wishes he didn’t have to address his future, nor the playing location of James next season.
But as it relates to his own future, Irving is signed through the next season, with an option for 2019-2020. To date, he has not picked up that option. Currently, Irving isn’t yet running following his knee surgery back in March. Missing the NBA playoffs was brutal for the all-star. But he’s looking forward to the coming season.
But the question is: where will he play in the fall? The Celtics have a young roster loaded with talent and Irving would have to sacrifice some playing time in order to return to the rotation. But at 20 million a year, perhaps Boston is interested in moving out his salary in favor of an upgrade up front. It could happen.
However, the only way Irving is moving is if he likes where he would be going, and would agree to a contract extension right away. Acquiring the champion point guard at that price is simply too much of a risk for any NBA team.
Some have speculated that the Spurs are the right fit, since they are in need of a point guard, have an elite coach and a power forward in Aldridge up front. But Boston would only consider someone like Kawhi Leonard, who also has one year remaining on his deal. Would Leonard want to come to Boston? Would the Celtics have the money to sign him to a max deal?
Others have brought up the Knicks as a place for Irving to play, since it’s a big media market and he has aspirations to act and do other things. But what does New York have to give up to acquire him? No, they would need a third team involved in any trade to bring in Irving.
At the end of the day I believe that Irving will play in Boston next season and the Celtics will be prepared to ride out Kyrie’s deal, hoping he at least picks up his option for the following year. For Irving, he’ll see how coach Brad Stevens balances playing time for everyone and he’ll look at it as him being fresh for the postseason. But all bets are off next summer. Sooner or later, he’ll want to get paid.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s also a contributor to ESPN 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow him @MatthewWords.