Kyrie Irving reportedly told Cavaliers teammates of desire to join Knicks. Should Celtics worry about his 2019 free agency?

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

After requesting a trade from the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving reportedly “very badly” wanted to join the Knicks. Instead, Cleveland sent him to the Celtics, a team not on his initially reported list (though maybe actually an Irving-approved destination).

Anyway, Irving is with Boston now and seems happy. But he’ll also become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

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Will he re-sign with the Celtics?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

I think they’re scared and should be scared to some degree of Kyrie Irving walking in 2019. I know he had a great year, but you know there are people in Cleveland that will tell you that the Knicks should be considered a real threat for Kyrie Irving. Because Kyrie had talked about it, about playing with the Knicks with some players in that Cleveland locker room from what I was told.

You know things can change. Obviously, you go to Boston. You become the face of the franchise. You’re on a winning team. Maybe the mindset has changed significantly.

I tend to believe the mindset has changed. Irving wanted to leave LeBron James and Cleveland. I don’t think he has the same desire to leave Boston. The Celtics would present a strong pitch, as they’re clearly a team on the rise. They went so far without Irving in these playoffs. Imagine what they’ll do with him next season.

However, it’s entirely possible Irving – who grew up in New Jersey –  views the Knicks favorably in 2019. They project to have major cap space that summer. Just because Irving isn’t itching to leave the Celtics now doesn’t mean they’ll be his top choice when he can select among all teams.

Irving would take a huge loss with a contract extension, so there’s no realistic way to resolve this until 2019 free agency. Boston must either wait until then and hope to re-sign him or preemptively trade him.

In the meantime, the Celtics must determine what to do with their other point guardsTerry Rozier (extension-eligible this offseason) and Marcus Smart (restricted free agent this offseason). They’re good players in their own rights, but also potentially hedges against Irving leaving.

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