It’s not even 2019 yet and there’s already panic from some when it comes to the future of Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
That’s because the 26-year-old Irving, the Celtics’ most valuable player and undeniable leader this past season. has the ability to opt out of his current contract next summer. Irving has by all means guaranteed that he will indeed opt out, too, and what that means remains to be seen. Irving lauded the ‘open dialogue’ and communication he has with the C’s about their direction, but most recently talked about the distraction of a contract year and gushed over New York as ‘home’ in an interview.
And when asked about signing an extension with the Celtics right now, Irving noted that it didn’t make sense to do it right now. That was because of the money he would be leaving on the table, and it was fairly easy to agree with him. But it’s not as if that was followed up with a confidence-boosting, “But I want to be with the Celtics long term.”
It seems like one big cloud hanging over the Celtics in pursuit of their 18th championship banner.
But in a tremendous sitdown with The Athletic’s Jay King, Celtics coach Brad Stevens talked about how he’s not focused on trying to convince Irving to stay in Boston, but rather showing him what they’re rapidly building in Boston.
“There’s no intent to sell [Irving on staying in Boston],” Stevens said. “Free agency is there for a reason. Everybody should be able at one point in time to make their own decision with what they want to do. All we want to do is make sure that every player that comes through here — whether it’s Kyrie Irving or whether it’s the 15th guy on the bench — knows that we’re invested in him, we’re going to do everything we can to make this a great experience, and this is a train going in the right direction. Like, we have a lot of good things going. So you don’t do anything different. We’re going to be ourselves.
“We’re going to coach. The guys are going to play. And when that time comes for any of our guys then they have the right to make their own decision. And ultimately, hopefully, they recognize how good of a thing we’ve got going in Boston.”
It’s a culture that Stevens thinks Irving obviously enjoys given where he was coming from when traded to Boston last year.
“I think at the end of the day one of the things that he was really consistent with was he wanted to be in a situation where everybody was excited about the opportunity to compete to win,” Stevens told King about Irving’s communication with him upon coming to Boston. “He came from a winning situation and he came from a situation where they were able to win a championship. And I think like anybody else he wants that feeling again. But I got the impression he really enjoyed it here.
“I know the end of the season was really hard for him. It would be hard for anybody. But he’s been great.”