Is Kyrie Irving still committed to the Boston Celtics or not? 'Ask me July 1'

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4840/" data-ylk="slk:Kyrie Irving">Kyrie Irving</a> has yet to play a playoff game in Boston. (AP)
Kyrie Irving has yet to play a playoff game in Boston. (AP)

Surprise, surprise, nobody can get a read on Kyrie Irving.

After declaring to thousands of season ticket-holders at TD Garden prior to the season, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year,” the Boston Celtics point guard walked that commitment back a little on Friday. When asked in New York whether he still plans to stay in Boston as a free agent this summer, Irving said, “Ask me July 1.” The 26-year-old said a lot of other stuff, too:

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“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career.”


“Obviously, Boston’s still at the head of that race.”


I don’t owe anybody s—.


So, that’s not, like, the greatest endorsement that Irving is steadfast in his commitment to Boston.

There are several ways to read this. There have been many recent reports about a growing belief around the league that Irving is wavering on his decision to re-sign with the Celtics, and Friday’s shootaround press conference at Madison Square Garden would certainly lend credence to that.

It is also concerning that Irving’s indecision came moments before The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Anthony Davis doesn’t consider the Celtics a long-term option and a day after the New York Knicks — his hometown team and one of the few he included on a list of preferred destinations prior to joining Boston — cleared double-maximum cap space by trading Kristaps Porzingis. Irving’s close relationships with USA Basketball teammates Davis and (fellow 2019 free agent) Kevin Durant, as well as the fact Irving met with the media in New York prior to playing the Knicks, only adds to the drama.

On the other hand, Irving did say in September that he merely planned to re-sign with the Celtics in July, and plans change. He also said on Friday that Boston remains the leading contender for his services, so maybe the plan hasn’t changed. As The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported on Thursday, Irving has given the Celtics no indication that he has changed course on his commitment.

“I talk to Kyrie on a daily basis and see him all the time,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday. “None of this stuff that’s out in the media this week that people have brought to my attention really matters to me. Just, we need to sell our team, our players. We need to sell free agents-to-be that are out there, potential free agents, our own players that this is a place they want to be on a regular basis.

“Of course we want to keep Kyrie and, you know, time will tell.”

That’s not a ringing endorsement, either, but maybe this is what it always was. Until Irving signs an extension, the Celtics have to sell him on the organization, and this season has been a rocky one. They also just showed they can compete with the Golden State Warriors, so the sales pitch is solid. It might be better with Davis in tow this summer, but the Celtics remain one of the NBA’s few contenders.

All that said, if Irving wanted to keep his options open for the summer, he probably shouldn’t have shot this Nike commercial suggesting he wants his No. 11 retired in the TD Garden rafters one day:


Maybe keeping some suspense about his free agency is good for his brand.

Maybe it’s best to have some leverage entering into negotiations on a long-term contract.

Maybe he’s frustrated by everyone else trying to tell him whether he’s wavering or not:

And maybe we’re all better off trying not to figure out what the heck Kyrie Irving is thinking.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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