By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It seems more likely by the day that Kyrie Irving won't commit to a long-term deal with the Boston Celtics before exploring free agency. And it also sounds increasingly likely that the C's will have to compete for his services with, at a minimum, the New York Knicks.
ESPN's Ian Begley reported on Wednesday that several NBA executives expect Irving to consider the Knicks if he opts out and becomes a free agent in the summer of 2019. It's not much of a surprise at this point, considering he grew up in West Orange, New Jersey and the Knicks were on his list of preferred trade destinations last year.
It may surprise observers, however, that Irving would be interested in joining a franchise with the utter futility of the Knicks, who haven't won an NBA championship since 1973. The hometown aspect and the draw of New York City apparently continue to entice him.
There's also the idea that Irving and Jimmy Butler may be orchestrating a plan to play together for an Eastern Conference team. Both of them could become free agents in 2019. The Knicks also still have big man Kristaps Porzingis, who averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 rebounds as a 22-year-old in 2017-18.
New York would have perhaps the most talented "Big 3" in franchise history if they were to land both Irving and Butler as free agents. They'll certainly have the cap space to pay both of them max deals. The more real this possibility becomes, the more likely it could be that Danny Ainge finds himself looking to move Irving before losing him for nothing.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].