Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has yet to opt out of his current contract, and can’t until 2019. But the talk of how the 26-year-old would and/or will handle his first jump into unrestricted free agency next summer is already beyond annoying.
“It could be a process,’’ Irving said in a ’roundtable discussion’ with New York’s basketball writers this week ahead of the ‘Uncle Drew’ premiere. “Even considering that time, it seems like a long ways away. You’ve definitely seen it, observed it, other players have gone through it. You just can’t let anything infiltrate exactly where your focus is. A lot of your attention could be distracted in other areas. And we’ve seen things — our platform now, in terms of what the NBA entails, they could just draw one word and sentences start becoming whole diatribes of what he actually meant.”
Irving, was of course, referencing his All-Star weekend ‘mistake’ that saw him admit that he would like to someday play with the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. Or when he said he would like to win with the Celtics this season. Irving also praised the local flavor and personality of New York’s basketball scene, and made it a point to mention that he’s from the area.
“[The metro area] will always be home to me,” said Irving. “I’m from New Jersey — to just be clear.
“This is where I grew up, man.“
Irving has also acknowledged that the talk of his impending free agency could become an in-season distraction for him, but admits that he’s ‘cool’ with it so long as it doesn’t become too much.
“I think just hearing the balance, it’s just a ways away, man,” Irving said. “But [the hype] is already starting. As long as I could just divide the attention up and it just doesn’t infiltrate what I’m focused on during the season, then I’m cool with it.”
All things considered, this is probably not what Celtics president Danny Ainge wants to hear.
Now, Irving has not come out and said that he’s intent on leaving the Celtics. He instead maintains that the C’s have an open dialogue with him, and that signing a contract just doesn’t make a lot of sense right now given the money he would be leaving on the table.
But hearing Irving gush about New York, the distractions of a contract year, and the process of it all isn’t exactly encouraging.