Kyrie Irving has found himself at the center of the NBA rumor mill this season.
The Boston Celtics star guard has the option to opt out of his contract and become a free agent on July 1. While Irving has previously said he plans to re-sign with Boston, the 26-year-old has walked his commitment back in recent weeks, either out of frustration with the continuous questions or out of doubts about the Celtics as a long-term home.
As the Celtics exit the All-Star break in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, Irving sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to discuss the Boston’s turbulent season, his infamous phone call to LeBron James and the attention surrounding his upcoming free agency.
Irving, who has been rumored to be an offseason target for the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, lamented the amount of media attention surrounding his future free agency.
“Well, that talk’s going to stop,” Irving said. “I mean, the talks follow the great players in the league and I’m appreciative and grateful to be one of those great players in our league now. You know, I’ve worked my way to get here and, honestly, all that goes with the free agent talk is really a distraction. A lot of people don’t realize on the outside that a lot of things that are said get into locker rooms. Like, a lot of things that are put in headlines get into locker rooms.
“The media has broken up locker rooms, like it’s been done before, like, where you say something and it’s been misinterpreted and instead of addressing it with the person or individual — like human interaction — you read it on your phone. You read it on text. Somebody says, ‘Hey, did you see what this said about you?’ And it’s your teammate, and you’re like, ‘Wait, I didn’t hear that.’ And then you hold back and don’t say anything to them, and then throughout the season it ends up coming out again, and it’s just like that’s not the way life is supposed to go. You know, it’s a unique position, but I’m appreciative and understanding now. It’s fun, but at the same time, goodness it’s energy taxing.”
Irving has been bombarded with questions since the offseason and it’s easy to see why he would get tired of the constant badgering but he hasn’t done much to quell the noise of late.
The Celtics and Irving will need to find a way to tune out the noise surrounding the star’s uncertain future if they plan to make it through the souped-up Eastern Conference and to a likely NBA Finals date with the Golden State Warriors.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images