Are Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics headed toward a honeymoon or a nasty breakup?
Irving said before the season he plans to sign a long-term deal with Boston, but those intentions since have been called into question with the All-Star point guard recently indicating he’ll make a decision on his future upon opting out of his contract and hitting free agency July 1.
Danny Ainge doesn’t sound too concerned, though. The Celtics president of basketball operations stressed Friday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” that he heard Irving’s comments but overall feels good about the sides taking the next step in their relationship after this season.
“The way I viewed the situation is that, I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that there was a marriage. And I think that it’s more like an engagement, and we’re going to get married on July 1st,” Ainge said. “And I think that that engagement is still on, as far as I know. In my individual conversations with Kyrie, we’re still engaged but we really can’t make those vows, sign that contract until July 1st.”
Some pundits have speculated Irving could sign elsewhere this summer, leaving the Celtics in a difficult situation. The New York Knicks have long been mentioned as a potential landing spot, and the Los Angeles Lakers even have been floated as a possible destination in recent weeks thanks to Irving smoothing things over with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
This might be enough to make some NBA executives sweat, especially with Irving’s future perhaps playing a huge role in Boston’s expected pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis this offseason. But Ainge has maintained an open line of communication with Irving and has had several conversations with the 26-year-old since his recent noncommittal comments.
“Good,” Ainge said Friday of where things stand with Irving. “Better than maybe the mood of that initial press conference; I don’t really know all that was going on with him. But we have had some good conversations.”
So, why doesn’t Irving just come right out and say he still plans to re-sign with Boston a few months from now? Ainge isn’t sure, although he has a theory and remains optimistic the sides eventually will walk down the aisle toward a long, prosperous marriage.
“I think that you’d have to ask Kyrie those questions,” Ainge said. “I think that he just doesn’t like his name in all these rumors and being associated with all these other players. I think he likes to be his own man and have his own mind and own opinions. But I feel like there’s still a chance that on July 1st he stays here, and that’s what we’re shooting for. We still have a date on July 1st.”
In other words, Irving still has the ring and time to figure out whether he wants to say “I do” this offseason. The Celtics are just hoping he doesn’t get cold feet.