Danny Ainge says that Celtics and Kyrie Irving are still 'going to get married' in free agency

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Much has been made of Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving’s recent comments that insinuated that he is no longer a lock to re-sign with Boston — a departure from his commitment to stay in October.

However, as far as Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is concerned, he still has a ring on it.

In a wide-ranging interview with Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub, Ainge said that he is still confident that Irving will stick around after presumably opting out of his contract this summer.

“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, you know, thought that there was a marriage,” Ainge said. “And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1. 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 1. We do have to wait until July 1 to finish any deal.”

Because the Celtics own Irving’s Bird rights, they hold an advantage over other suitors because they can offer a fifth year at a higher average annual value: $38 million. All other teams can only offer Irving a four-year, $139 million deal.

However, before this marriage is consummated, there are a couple of key questions.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says point guard Kyrie Irving (Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says point guard Kyrie Irving (Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Which teams will object to this marriage?

If Irving were to leave the Celtics, there would be several obvious suitors in line for his hand in marriage.

Perhaps the most commonly discussed team has been the New York Knicks, since Irving grew up in nearby West Orange, New Jersey, and has discussed how much he loves Madison Square Garden. When the Knicks traded homegrown star Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, they opened enough cap space for two max players, perhaps Irving and Kevin Durant?

Meanwhile, Irving seems to be making amends with LeBron James after forcing his way out when both were on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Lakers can make room for Irving this summer, while the Los Angeles Clippers cleared room for a max contract after dealing Tobias Harris if Irving wants his own team.

What is on the Irving-Celtics wedding registry?

However, if Irving does stick out his proposal with the Celtics, there will certainly be plenty on his wedding registry for the team to improve upon. Boston may have entered the season as favorites in the East, but it has struggled to secure home court advantage in the first round, and the three teams ahead of them in the conference made big upgrades at the trade deadline.

Irving is known to be close friends with New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis from playing together on Team USA and has even reportedly pitched him on playing in Boston. Davis apparently does not see Boston as a long-term home, although it’s not clear how much of that is about his desire to play for the Lakers or Irving’s current non-commitment to the Celtics.

Regardless of whether the Celtics can land Davis and sign him to an extension, they have among the biggest war chests of trade chips to land another star. Boston could own up to four first-round picks in the upcoming draft and have several intriguing youngsters, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.

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