Kyrie Irving struck a more optimistic tone about his future in Boston in an interview with Boston Sports Journal, but still remained non-committal about where he'll play beyond next season.
"I think that's the exciting part about all this is that when you're shaping up to gear up to be a championship-caliber team for years to come - which I think [C's president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] has echoed for a little bit," Irving told BSJ's Brian Robb (subscription required). "I'm just appreciative to be a part of it and see where my career can take off as well. I'm excited."
Irving, who by training camp is expected to be fully recovered from the offseason knee procedure that kept him out of the playoffs, said he's excited to finally get to play with Gordon Hayward, who should be back from his ankle injury. Hayward joins a mix of emerging stars (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) along with veterans (Irving, Al Horford).
"I'm just excited to see what that looks like, really getting that experience with G and seeing what other pieces we have going forward," Irving said. "When you add another prominent ballhandler, creator of opportunities, scorer and defender in Gordon, that's something you can't necessarily talk about it, you can only see. That's something a lot of us are excited to see from G."
There is also the looming presence of LeBron James and his free agency this summer. The Celtics are long shots to sign James, but Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports the C's could be worried about the impact even talking to James would have on Irving, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. "Let's begin with the fact that I get the feeling the C's are concerned with the effect if they were to even ask Kyrie Irving how he'd feel about a reunion," Bulpett writes.
As for the long-term, Irving sounded cautious, echoing comments he made to the New York Times last week.
"For me, it's my job to just stay present," he told Robb. "When all that stuff at that time comes, we'll see what happens."
Because of the NBA collective bargaining agreement and salary-cap rules, by waiting for a new deal until the summer of 2019, the BSJ story points out, Irving would be able to make $190 million over five years with the Celtics, rather than signing an extension this summer for four years, $108 million.
Also, next summer the Celtics would have financial advantages over other suitors: They can offer a five-year deal with 8 percent annual raises, while other teams can only offer four years with 5 percent raises.