Jay King: Kyrie on video with Durant: “It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about that? That’s what disconnects me from all that shit.”
More Rumors in this Storyline
Brian Heyman: I asked Enes Kanter if he would recommend the #Knicks for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or any of big FAs this summer: “Of course. It’s a very good organization. Good people. … Amazing city. So I think that they have a really good chance to get good superstars.” #NBA #nyknicks
Kyrie Irving made headlines last week, commenting “I don’t owe anybody sh–” regarding his supposed obligation to remain in Boston when he hits free agency. Two days later, Irving decimated the Oklahoma City Thunder to lead the Celtics to a home win on Sunday. Did Kyrie’s comments negatively affect the team, or was that not an issue? Al Horford: I know things are being said in the media, but we’re not talking with each other about the off-season or about what’s going to happen with the team next season. We’re enjoying this journey we’re in together. At the end of the day, that’s all we’re concerned with. We’re trying to compete for a championship.
Chris Forsberg: Danny Ainge on @toucherandrich expresses confidence that Kyrie Irving still plans to re-sign this summer. Compares it to an engagement before wedding. “We can’t make those vows … until July 1. … We still have a date.” Said they’ve had good talks since his New York chatter.
While questions about the long-term Celtic futures of Irving and perhaps Davis loom, sources said it has been made clear from ownership down that the focus of this season should be on trying to win a championship now. Within the organization, there is a belief that it remains possible, and the fact that the Celtics have won 10 of their last 11 games, have the third-best net rating in the league, and have generally thrived when healthy has served as evidence.
Marc Stein: “The Knicks and the Nets, both New York teams, have believed quietly for a long time that they’re going to have a shot at Kyrie Irving in free agency. It’s not like the teams interested in him heard what he said in October and said ‘oh well, we’ve got no shot, Kyrie is staying in Boston.’ These teams are going to try … They will definitely go after Kyrie this summer.”
Marc Stein: “There are some people around the league who watched the events of last week when Kyrie said what he said and have watched all month as Kyrie and LeBron have seemingly lobbed Valentine’s back and forth to each other about how much they miss each other. Now, there is a sense that what if the Lakers could Anthony Davis AND Kyrie? And they’re the ones who steal Kyrie Irving away from the Celtics and not the Knicks … There are people who believe that is the grand Laker plan.“
Boston, for its part, remains cautiously optimistic about keeping Irving, though the events of the past week — Irving’s comments, New York opening up a second maximum salary slot — have shaken them. But Boston is always confident. That is Ainge’s default mindset. The league at large is much less confident, but it is hard to say who knows what, and with what level of reliability. The postseason could be really telling for so many of this summer’s headliner free agents.
They all are keenly aware of what Irving’s done and said this season, and explaining it isn’t so easy. Several agreed that, when the Bryant-Irving relationship was explained to them by The Athletic, perhaps Irving is just living out the advice from his idol. “Yeah, I guess,” Al Horford said. “You know, sometimes, some drastic things need to happen, some things need to be said.” Added Marcus Smart: “I can tell you that what he’s doing, it’s working. Causing conflict, if that’s what he’s doing, it’s working.”
But the Celtics remain quietly confident that they are on the same page with Irving, maintaining constant communication with the All-Star guard. “A partnership,” is how one source described the Celtics relationship with Irving, who has been frustrated—like many inside Boston’s locker room—by the uneven play this season but has been positive, publicly and privately, about the direction of the franchise. The root of his frustration, a former teammate of Irving’s told SI.com, could have little to do with Boston at all. Irving hates the narrative that other players (Kevin Durant in New York; Davis in Boston) can influence his decision, the ex-teammate said. He gets frustrated when he feels people are trying to manipulate him. In his mind, it doesn’t matter if it’s Davis or James—he’s going to do whatever he wants to do, and to assume otherwise is disrespectful.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Danny Ainge has encouraged the Pelicans to wait until the offseason to negotiate with the Celtics. Boston remains determined to try and partner Anthony Davis with Kyrie Irving for long-term, but plans to pursue AD regardless of Irving’s free agency plans, per sources.
Boston’s plan to pursue Davis remains unaffected by whatever decision Irving might make in summer free agency, league sources said. Irving, 26, had previously said he planned to re-sign with the Celtics in the summer but has recently wavered in public on that promise. While the Celtics can’t be positive on Irving’s forthcoming decision in July, they do remain confident that he’ll choose to stay in Boston, sources said. The Celtics also believe that a deal for Davis would help solidify his confidence in re-signing with the organization, sources said.
Speaking to reporters in New York, where Irving, should he decline Boston’s five-year, $189 million offer in free agency, could wind up, maybe with Warriors star Kevin Durant, Irving said “ask me July 1” when asked about his past commitment to the Celtics. Guess what? James approved of Irving’s comments Friday. “He handled it great,” James said. “His post interview was great as well. Just a lot of things that’s going on in our league right now, and the one thing you want to focus on is getting that team to place where he wanted it to be, and that’s competing for a championship.”
On Jan. 16, Irving said he called James to, in his words, apologize “for “being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold.” Irving, a proclaimed leader on the Celtics now, said he was dealing with the same things from Boston’s younger players that James saw from Irving and other youngsters in Cleveland. Sources said the pains Irving’s experienced with some teammates is a reason he’s considering leaving the Celtics.
Zion Williamson was alerted after Saturday’s game to a New York newspaper back page, which featured an edited image of stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, along with himself, in Knicks jerseys, and even he couldn’t help but smile about the potential. “I mean, it would be dope to play with KD and Kyrie, but whichever team drafts me, I’ll be ready to play hard and work,” he said.
Chris Mannix on Kyrie Irving: “They talk to him all the time. And as recently as Thursday, I was told that this week they talked to Kyrie and they still feel very comfortable that he wants to be in Boston and that this is where he’s going to be long-term.”
But while Irving said all the right things before this season began, things haven’t gone according to plan during it, as virtually everyone involved with the Celtics has been some combination of disappointed and frustrated by how this season has played out so far. That has been especially true with regard to Irving, multiple sources said, due to a variety of factors.
John Karalis: Kyrie on the chants: “I’m appreciative of the fan support I get in any arena but of course coming back home, obviously what’s going on in terms of that noise and commentary, it’s just a bunch of nonsense right now. You can’t do anything about it. So… I’m appreciative.”
Chris Forsberg: Kyrie, after seeking out his dad in MSG crowd to give jersey, was asked in ESPN walkoff about Knicks fans chanting for him. “At this point it’s nothing but a distraction, honestly. … it’s really about our team now and what we want to accomplish and that’s a championship.”
Brian Mahoney: Kyrie Irving gets the loud “Please come play for the Knicks!” ovation during starting lineups.
The Knicks’ surprising blockbuster trade of Porzingis to the Mavericks essentially wiped clean New York’s payroll, putting them in prime position to sign two superstars, with Kevin Durant and Irving as the primary targets. Thursday evening’s rumor mill suggested that Davis believes Irving will sign with the Knicks. Don’t put too much stock in that, however. For one thing, front-office sources around the league believe that’s a smokescreen scare tactic as Davis’ agent tries to push him to the Lakers. Uncertainty about what the Celtics might offer works heavily in the Lakers’ favor.
Ian Begley: Kyrie Irving was asked on Friday about the Knicks’ trade of Kristaps Porzingis: “I respect the Knicks organization. Obviously they are making moves to position themselves for this upcoming summer. So I wish them the best.”
Rob Perez: hi @JR Smith what do you know pic.twitter.com/3r6adVSpGR
Irving is still expected by league sources to re-sign long term with the Celtics, though that confidence has diminished in recent weeks. Irving is from New Jersey, and playing near home for a contender could have some appeal. Leaving a contender in Boston for New York would be easier if it meant teaming up with Durant, one of his close friends.
Hey Chris, can you see Kyrie joining LeBron in LA? Chris Fedor: Before answering, let me direct you to my recent piece where I asked numerous Cavaliers this very question. The consensus from them: It’s Irving. He’s wired different. He can be moody. What he thinks now may not be the same in three weeks or even three months. He likes to keep people guessing and is always looking for the next challenge. While I wouldn’t completely rule out Irving and James reuniting in Los Angeles, it’s tough to see LA being Irving’s top choice this summer. Think about why he wanted out of Cleveland. The status quo hasn’t changed.
Davis’ camp has let it be known he doesn’t consider the Celtics a long-term home because he doesn’t believe Irving plans to re-sign with the Celtics next season, sources said. The New York Knicks’ stunning salary-dump trade that moved out Porzingis on Thursday cleared enough salary-cap space for the team to chase both Kevin Durant and Irving in free agency.
The Celtics haven’t changed their feelings on Irving, and they consider him part of their long-term core; and Irving hasn’t informed the team that his feelings have changed, multiple sources said. In general, the Celtics have a reputation as a measured and strategic organization.
For all the talk of Irving’s recent apology to LeBron James and the idea that Irving might renege on his October promise to re-sign in order to reunite with his former Cleveland Cavaliers co-star with the Lakers, a source with knowledge of the Celtics’ thinking said there is little to no concern about that prospect within their green walls.
New York will target the top players on the market, which is expected to include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. Some close to Durant see New York as a possible landing spot for the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP if he chooses to leave Golden State, according to league sources.
The Knicks get a point guard of the future in Smith, who had a triple-double at the Garden on Wednesday night, and should now have enough cap space for two maximum free agents — with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving squarely on their radar. A source said general manager Scott Perry and Mavs chief Donnie Nelson were behind closed doors at the Garden discussing scenarios when the Mavericks faced the Knicks on Wednesday night.
With new rumors swirling about point guard Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston, a league source with ties to the All-Star point guard said Irving has given no indication that he will back down from his October proclamation that he will re-sign with the Celtics at season’s end.
“I talk to Kyrie on a daily basis and see him all the time,” Ainge said. “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.
Brian Robb: Danny Ainge to @Toucherandrich on Kyrie rumors: “I talk to Kyrie on a daily basis and see him all the time… I feel like Kyrie likes it in Boston… We need to sell our team and our players and free agents to be… Of course, we want to keep Kyrie and time will tell.”
Most everyone I’ve spoken to around the Celts and the All-Star guard has held out the caveat that unforeseen events could alter his course, but they have heard nothing from Irving to indicate he plans to do anything other than opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and sign a longer and richer pact with the local professional basketball company.
There have been reports to the contrary — that he is strongly weighing his options and perhaps even leaning toward the door — but one source very close to the situation laughed and suggested that sowing doubt regarding Irving is in the best interest of others who are, of course, free to pursue their agendas.
A source close to the Celtics confirmed that Kyrie Irving is genuinely interested in reuniting with his former Cavaliers teammate. “That is for real,” the source said.
Regarding team preferences, Boston is not a top target for Davis, sources said. There’s a growing belief of uncertainty that Kyrie Irving will re-sign with Boston, sources said, even though he vowed to do so at the beginning of the season.
Regarding team preferences, Boston is not a top target for Davis, sources said. There’s a growing belief of uncertainty that Kyrie Irving will not re-sign with Boston, sources said, even though he vowed to do so at the beginning of the season.
Chris, you know LeBron James and you know Kyrie Irving. Can you see him seriously considering the Lakers at this point? Chris Haynes: “I can’t, because you’ve gotta hold him to his word. [He’s] the one that came out unprompted and said he’s gonna be a Celtic next year. So I haven’t heard anything on the grapevine that suggests Kyrie – this is the first I’ve heard that he could be thinking about joining the Lakers. But I wouldn’t put it past – all these teams have an obligation to check on all the free agents and gauge their interest, so I definitely think the Lakers and a number of other teams will do their due diligence but I gotta take Kyrie by his word. He said he’s gonna be a Celtic.
Chtis Haynes: It’s different when a player, because we hear it all the time, when players say, ‘I would love to be here. This is home to me. I’ve grown up and became a leader here.’ But to say, ‘I’m coming back,’ that’s a little too far to turn back on right now. So that would be news to me…as far as his ties to the Lakers. I expect him to be back [with the Celtics].”
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said a source believes Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is now destined to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 NBA season, and a reunion with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James is possible with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Smith continued: “And so now we have a situation where I know nothing about this. I haven’t asked. I’m just referring to a text I received last night. I will never say who it is. Never. But it says, ‘Hey, a bit easier to come to LA now.’ And you have people in the NBA that are now believing if indeed the Boston Celtics, loaded with talent, Danny Ainge being the genius that he is as an executive, knowing that he has enough talent not to stick with Kyrie … All of the sudden there’s another guy that’s gonna be on the free agent market this summer. It’s gonna be Kyrie Irving.”
Brian Mahoney: A pretty loud “Kyrie’s Leaving!” chant breaks out inside Barclays Center with the #Celtics down 24 against the Nets early in the fourth quarter.
The cap space for New York in 2019-20 now projects to be $29.5M after the Allonzo Trier signing ($3.55M cap hit). The room takes into account: 1) All free agent cap holds renounced except for Kristaps Porzingis 2) Waiving the non-guaranteed contract of Lance Thomas 3) Their own first round pick. The projected max for a player with 7-9 years of service like Kyrie Irving is $32.7M and for 10+ years like Kevin Durant $38.15M.
Up in the land of Kyrie, Knicks coach David Fizdale gave his strongest case yet that the Knicks have become an attractive free-agent destination after 25 games on the job. The Knicks are closing in on having cap space for a maximum salary this summer but have work to do. Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, a Northern Jersey product, was considered their best chance until he proclaimed he will re-sign, but that is no guarantee after the Celtics’ sluggish start. Irving’s backup, Terry Rozier, is also a restricted free agent, and the two of them may not be able to coexist long term. The Knicks like Rozier a lot, according to a source.
The Knicks are closing in on having cap space for a maximum salary this summer but have work to do. Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, a Northern Jersey product, was considered their best chance until he proclaimed he will re-sign, but that is no guarantee after the Celtics’ sluggish start. Irving’s backup, Terry Rozier, is also a restricted free agent, and the two of them may not be able to coexist long term. The Knicks like Rozier a lot, according to a source.
As any college coach will tell you, a verbal commitment is just that. Also, the Celtics will probably be willing to make the five-year offer to Irving, but that’s not in stone at this point with Irving’s history of injuries and many months to go. Plenty of executives have the magnet with Irving’s name on it slapped in the “UFA” (unrestricted free agent) column on their whiteboards.
Irving, 26, and from nearby West Orange, N.J., is the type of electrifying floor leader the Knicks have coveted since Walt Frazier. Or at least since Mark Jackson was competing for playing time with Irving’s godfather, Rod Strickland. In their wildest dreams, the Knicks envision a lineup featuring – drum roll, please — Irving, a healthy Porzingis and Kevin Durant. (We did say dream.) If you thought LeBron’s home debut on Saturday in Los Angeles was a big deal, just image the hysteria next October if the Knicks pull that one off. “Kyrie can play anywhere and deal with any type of pressure,” Strickland said over the telephone.
Kyrie Irving publicly committed earlier this month to re-signing with the Celtics, but the All-Star point guard admits he would have given “strong consideration” to joining up with David Fizdale, Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks as a free agent next summer. “I mean, every team was under consideration, but obviously New York held a special place for me,” Irving said after Boston edged the Knicks, 103-101, Saturday night at the Garden. “Just being from [New] Jersey and envisioning myself as a free agent and ultimately taking a meeting and playing for Fiz and the great young core they have here, thinking about playing with KP, that was a big thing before I made my decision to sign back — or, I don’t want to get in trouble, to plan on re-signing back — with Boston. “But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration.”
Ian Begley: A mix of cheers and boos for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving during intros at Madison Square Garden. I’m sure plenty of people in the building still hope Irving considers the Knicks in free agency. He’s said he plans to re-sign with Boston.
The timing of the declaration also came as a surprise to Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations. “Kyrie just wanted to make that announcement then. I didn’t know he was going to make it then and there,” Ainge said Thursday during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”
“The fact that he wanted to announce that and just get it out there was not surprising to us,” Ainge said. “We felt like we were going to move forward with Kyrie for years to come. We had talked about it a little bit, but I guess that was just when he was ready to tell everybody he wanted to stay.”
Jay King: Wyc Grousbeck gushes about Kyrie Irving as a player and human, then adds, “I’m really honored that he will plan to consider us next summer.” Grousbeck is pumped about the Celtics and Kyrie, but sounds like he knows there’s nothing concrete about a commitment at this point.
Though most stars go through the actual process of free agency recruiting before making a decision, Irving made the unorthodox choice to declare his aim nine months before he can officially sign a five-year, $189-million max contract. The Celtics know nothing can be finalized until July, when free agency begins, but were thrilled to hear of the five-time All-Star’s verbal long-term commitment. As one team source said, “Everybody’s happy.”
Kevin Love, Irving’s friend and former teammate on the Cavs, told Cleveland reporters Friday: “Boston’s a great place, they’re building something, they have a team that can switch 1 through 5, they can throw different guys into the lineup, they’ve got a great coach. “Am I surprised he said that? No,” Love said. “I’m more surprised that they asked the question in front of all the people. Eight, nine, 10 months away.”
Brian Robb: Kyrie on the impact of his decision for upcoming year: “I know I made a lot of guys comfortable. Our management, coaching staff, they don’t have to worry about recruiting me the whole season and telling me how great it is to be a Celtic and be here.”
If they do, the Celtics will be one of the obvious suitors, with Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Robert Williams and/or a number of future picks including a possible top-five selection to dangle. Even if Tatum’s off the table, Boston would be able to field a competitive offer. Several league sources have said they believe Davis could end up either with the Celtics or Lakers if the Pelicans were to move him. If he landed with the Celtics, he’d be reunited with former Team USA teammate Irving. The two have already spoken about what it would be like to play together in Boston, according to a league source.
Jay King: Kyrie Irving said he has “every intention” to sign back with Boston next summer. Just like he said last night. “I think the important thing is just being happy.” Said the Celtics’ environment challenges him both physically and mentally. He has dreams of putting #11 in the rafters
According to a league source, Irving had initiated brief conversations with Celtics officials in recent days in which he indicated he was “pretty confident” he wants to re-sign with the team this summer after opting out of the final year of his current deal. The Celtics believed Irving wanted to be a Celtic, but there hadn’t really been recent in-depth chats about the matter. When the Celtics were almost caught off-guard by the sudden pronouncement, Irving told them he just wanted them to know exactly how he felt.
Irving also informed the Celtics he wanted to make his sentiment public. According to a league source, he said he would declare it during his group interview with the media prior to Thursday’s fan event. The scrum was held in front of a green tarp in the visitors’ locker room at TD Garden, and Irving spoke for nearly nine minutes. He talked about his sore ribs and his business aspirations, but he did not mention anything about his future in Boston. (Although, in fairness, he was not asked.) He did not tell the Celtics he had another approach in mind, however.
But something seemed to have shifted by September. Some around the organization believe the opening of the team’s gleaming new practice facility had a significant impact. The Celtics’ previous setup, at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham, was essentially an eyesore. Also, in September Irving resumed playing five-on-five pickup games with his Celtics teammates, and perhaps those helped remind him how immensely talented this team is.
Chris Forsberg: Paul Pierce on Kyrie Irving’s resigning announcement: “I think that’s huge. I think he has an understanding after being here a year it’s all about legacy. To have a legacy here in Boston, it could be like none other in the NBA.”
Scott Souza: More Paul Pierce on Kyrie Irving declaring he intends to re-sign w/ #Celtics: He’s a smart player, a smart guy. He understands that a championship window doesn’t last that long. He had his run in Cleveland. He sees a future here in Boston that it could be truly something special.
Tom Westerholm: Kyrie Irving just announced he plans to re-sign here next year.
Abby Chin: Kyrie Irving just told everyone here at Fan Fest, “I plan on re-signing here with Boston next year!” So there you go! #Celtics
Shams Charania: Sources: As Boston star Kyrie Irving says at Celtics fan event that he plans to re-sign with the team next summer, Irving has also communicated with Boston ownership over past several weeks and verbally committed plans to stay long-term.
Irving continued his adulation of Boston. “Man, we’re talking about a real sports city, which I got hit in the head for from Cleveland [for calling Boston ‘a real sports city’ to the Undefeated],” he said. “We all know what a real sports city is. They call it Titletown for a reason. And I was just elated to be here. That was a big move and I’m glad I have a year in now in Boston and I’m ready to continue here.”
And finally, Irving touched on his impending free agency this summer. “To be in a position to even be considered a franchise free agent is pretty awesome,” he said. “At this point in my career, it’s not so much about the money, it’s not so much about the extra curricular things, it’s like OK, where am I happy? Where am I most comfortable? Who’s going to give me that [atmosphere] where I would love to grow as a human being? I spent more time with my teammates than I do with my family and you want to be in a place where thinking about starting over again, obviously that’s what the thing you think about.
“You think, ‘what about a new location?’ and it’s just like I want to be comfortable and what’s better than being in Boston? This year has felt much different because of the environment that has been created for me and by me and going to the new practice facility. There’s nothing like playing at TD Garden. “I didn’t say that to appease you guys. I actually love Boston.”
Of course, Irving did not commit to Boston, did not sign any mega-deal, did not make anything official. But for Knicks fans dreaming of Irving as one of their max players next summer, it was a blow. “Who wouldn’t want to be part of [Boston’s future], honestly?” Irving told ESPN in a sitdown with him and Gordon Hayward. “The future is very, very bright in Boston. Even if I ever think about that thought of going elsewhere, it’s like, what are you thinking? We’re pretty f’in good here. We’re pretty f’in good not just for this year but for years to come. I’m looking forward to that.”
Adam Kaufman: Kyrie Irving, on his future, to @Toucherandrich: “It’s easy to follow. I’m from New Jersey. But it’s rumors, rumors, rumors. … It’s easy to draw that connection – New York City – but why would I want to leave here?” #Celtics
Ainge is getting no additional pleasure from the fact Irving is talking more about his future in Boston beyond this season in recent interviews. This after being fairly coy about his plans after he does as expected and opts out of his deal next summer to sign a more lucrative and lengthy contract. “I don’t think that’s ever a change of tune,” Ainge said. “I’ve talked to Kyrie a lot. Maybe he’s changed his tune with you (media), but he has been very positive from the day he got here. I talk to Kyrie all the time, his representation. I think Kyrie is very happy here in Boston, always has been. That will hopefully make this a place he wants to stay much longer once the season ends.”
“I’ve talked to Kyrie a lot,” he said. “Maybe he’s changed his tune with you, but he has been very positive from the day he got here. I talk to Kyrie all the time and his representation. I think Kyrie is very, very happy here in Boston. Always has been. And I think that we’ll hopefully make it a place that he’ll want to stay for much longer when the season ends.”
But Irving reiterated what he has been saying most of the offseason: that he knows he’s in a a special situation with the Celtics, and appreciates that to its fullest extent. “It’s like, man, if you only knew how special this organization was, and how special these guys are in this locker room… even if I had the inclination to test free agency, Boston’s gonna be like, ‘No, you’re coming back’. And I’m fine with that”
Irving said he’s aware that he’s been linked to Jimmy Butler in persistent free-agent rumors regarding a mutual desire to play together in New York, but he said he’s had no such discussions with Butler. In fact, he said, the last time he talked to Butler at length was when they were both playing with USA Basketball, and the two engaged in a spitballing session along with Durant and Cousins about what the future held for each of them. “And that,” Irving laughed, “was in 2016.”
“Who wouldn’t be a part of this?” Irving says, gesturing to Boston’s new practice facility. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Al Horford and Gordon Hayward? People keep saying, ‘Why won’t he commit to Boston?’ “Well, there are financial implications involved.”
“I’m accepting it’s going to be a constant story,” Irving shrugs. “It’s a point in my professional career where it is a big-time decision. I’ve been away from Cleveland officially for a year now, and I’m finally getting acclimated in Boston. “Last year it was almost like a trial. There was a lot going on. It was overwhelming at times, to be honest. The focus needed to be directed on getting better and helping my new team win a championship, instead of focusing on all the outside noise (regarding his departure from Cleveland) that affected me personally.”
Beyond the strictly basketball part, sources who know Irving well believe the Celtics culture has helped engage him in ways Cleveland’s failed to do. Irving’s leadership skills, sometimes dormant behind James, were needed to help Boston’s young roster. One source believes Brad Stevens is doing “all the right things” to maximize Irving, a player so talented he can grow restless looking for his next challenge.
Teammates have noted that Irving sometimes hunts out more difficult finishes than he needs as a way of testing his limits. While working out, Irving also tries to push himself — for example, he will play 1-on-1 games where he can only finish with his left hand off the glass. The idea of taking on more challenging leadership responsibilities, which the Celtics empower everyone to do, excites him. “How much it sharpens your focus to have to lead young guys, and how much joy he takes in doing that — that’s fun for him because it’s not easy and he knows it’s not easy,” said the source. “And so he’s intrigued by the cerebral aspect of leadership, that he has to talk to this guy differently than he speaks to that guy.”
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February 21, 2019 | 9:31 pm EST Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Rockets are signing G League guard Chris Chiozza to a 10-day contract, league sources tell ESPN. A rookie out of Florida, he was preparing to play with Jeff Van Gundy and USA Basketball at the FIBA qualifiers in Greensboro.
Derek Bodner: Final: #sixers 106, Heat 102. Balanced attack led by Boban (19 pts, 12 reb), Harris (21 pts, 11 reb), Simmons (21/7/4) and Butler (18/6/6). Sixers win despite shooting just 26.9% from 3 and with Joel Embiid (knee soreness) missing the game.