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.
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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.”
Sports Illustrated: Does JR have the scoop on Kyrie’s next move? (H/T @nicekicks)
The Celtics are reportedly optimistic about re-signing Kyrie Irving in unrestricted free agency next summer. But they’ll face competition. A. Sherrod Blakey of NBC Sports Boston the Bulls Talk podcast: I can tell you right now, the New York Knicks, he is their No. 1 target. I’ve spoken with people within that organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that, if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free agent market this summer, Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “I still would take Boston against the rest of the field [in Kyrie Irving’s free agency next summer] because I still think, in the end, there comes a moment of truth when you look around and you have to make a decision about somewhere else. And when you really start inspecting the questions that are in almost any other circumstance you’d go to, you’d say, ‘Boy, it looks pretty good here.'”
Adrian Wojnarowski: “I do think this: I think the Knicks will get somebody next year. I think the Knicks have put themselves in position where there’s gonna be enough movement – I think that max slot, like, it’s not going to be a Phil Jackson was gonna spend on Joakim Noah [situation]. I think they get a real one – I don’t know which one it is, but I think they’re in position to get a guy. They’d love for it to be Kyrie Irving but I still think Boston is in position, from top to bottom, if he’s healthy, and that team achieves, I still think it’s gonna be really hard [for Irving] to walk away from.”
Due to that and rumblings that Irving wants to team up with Jimmy Butler, the New York Knicks already lead the race as Kyrie’s potential team of choice, according to ESPN’s Summer Forecast. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz maintains that the Celtics and Irving have a mutual understanding of where their relationship is. “My best intel is that the Celtics and Kyrie have a pretty good mutual understanding that he wasn’t going to get traded in the offseason and that there are long-term aspirations for both parties,” said Arnovitz. “Anything can happen over the course of an eight-month season, but I kind of like him staying.”
A year out from what could be an enormous 2019 free agency in the NBA, there are rumors about the next potential super-team. Two league sources told Business Insider that there is a buzz about the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler teaming up next summer, with one source saying the chatter is “substantial.” Both sources also said the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players if they are indeed keen on teaming up.
Kyrie Irving’s intentions are not at all clear at this point. There have been no firm indications from Irving or his camp that the All-Star guard is eyeing an exit from Boston next summer or that he’s angling to go to New York — as is often speculated. But there are nonetheless credible rumblings in circulation that the Nets plan to pursue Irving, right alongside the Knicks, should he become a free agent on July 1, 2019.
Boston hasn’t included Jaylen Brown, sources say. As I wrote here, it might make more sense to offer Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward before Brown, but I don’t see either happening. Boston is confident it can re-sign Irving despite chatter — credible chatter — that Irving and Jimmy Butler would like to play together, per league sources. They’ve earned such confidence.
Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker are among those expected to be free agents that summer. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, the Knicks were among the teams Irving wanted to be traded to last summer. Several executives expect Irving to give the Knicks consideration next summer if he tests free agency, per ESPN’s Ian Begley.
A league source close to the situation told the Sun-Times on Tuesday that Kyrie Irving and former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler are still trying to figure out a way to play together.
Q. Kyrie Irving is going to be a free agent after the upcoming season. Obviously, he requested a trade from his previous team. Did you ever sit down with him to see what he wants in a basketball environment? Brad STEVENS: Yeah, we talk all the time about that stuff. But I think at the end of the day one of the things that he was really consistent with was he wanted to be in a situation where everybody was excited about the opportunity to compete to win. He came from a winning situation and he came from a situation where they were able to win a championship. And I think like anybody else he wants that feeling again. But I got the impression he really enjoyed it here. I know the end of the season was really hard for him. It would be hard for anybody. But he’s been great.
Irving admits it could be one of the big challenges he faces this season. “I think just hearing the balance, it’s just a ways away, man,” Irving said Monday morning in a movie roundtable with a handful of New York basketball writers. “But [the hype] is already starting. As long as I could just divide the attention up and it just doesn’t infiltrate what I’m focused on during the season then I’m cool with it.”
Q: Talking about July 1, you’ve never been an unrestricted free agent. Are you looking forward to that process? Kyrie Irving: It could be a process. Or, even considering that time it seems like a long ways away. So, it’s just like — you’ve definitely seen it, observed it, other players have gone through it. At the end of the day, you just can’t let anything infiltrate exactly where your focus is. A lot of your attention could be distracted in other areas. And we’ve seen things — our platform now, in terms of what the NBA entails, they could just draw one word and sentences start becoming whole diatribes of what he actually meant.
At a Q&A to promote his upcoming movie, Uncle Drew, Kyrie Irving answered some questions about basketball. He said he’s already heard from Knicks fans – and fans of other teams – about his free agency in 2019. Irving, who stars as Uncle Drew in the movie, says he’s heard from fans on social media and in public who’ve talked to him about his free agency. “It’s already starting,” said Irving, whose movie will be released on Friday. “As long as I could just divide the attention up and it just doesn’t infiltrate what I’m focused on during the season than I’m cool with it.”
Jay King: Brad Stevens said he doesn’t pay much attention to what Kyrie Irving says publicly about his future plans. “At the end of every year guys have the right to make their own decisions. All we can do is do the very best we can. And I feel really good about our situation.”
How confident are you that you’ll be a Celtic long term? Kyrie Irving: We have an incredible organization. I think we’ve positioned ourselves for the future, and we’re taking steps in the right direction. I’ve been transparent with [Celtics general manager and president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge. Transparent with the ownership of what my intentions are going into this season. And after the season, what conversations are going to be needed to have in order for us to get on the same page. What I really want, which is to bring our team, all of us together, to a championship with us all being healthy. That’s where my focus is, and when that time comes, I’ll be ready to answer.
Irving created a bit of a stir this week when he declined to state his desire to re-sign with the Celtics after next season. A league source said Friday that the Celtics believe Irving is happy in Boston and would like to be with the team long-term, but that there are no certainties.
Scott Souza: #Celtics Kyrie Irving did not shy away from hot topics: Said it doesn’t make sense to sign extension this summer but added “consistency” & “athenticy” were most important to him going forward. pic.twitter.com/WhQwFogJmv
Same applies with this summer’s free agency and the ensuing trade deadline. There have been enough opportunities punted away for fantasy. Don’t draft Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan because Clyde Drexler is already on the roster. With that being said, the Knicks have taken the right approach by, according to sources, targeting free agency in 2019. It’s simply a product of circumstance. They are positioned to have cap space and it just so happens Kyrie Irving will be a free agent.
Kyrie Irving can be a free agent in 2019 and the Boston Celtics may retain Terry Rozier until they receive a commitment from Irving. Rozier is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in 2019 as well. “I think they’re scared,” said Chris Mannix. “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.
Knicks fans can only dream Irving will bring his talents to the Garden when he’s a free agent in 2019 and the Knicks next have cap space. Irving put the Knicks (24-37) on his short wish list over the summer and said during All-Star weekend he told Kristaps Porzingis he’d “love to play with a big like you.” “Playing in the Mecca is always fun — it has a way of bringing out the best in people,” Irving said afterward. “It’s a hard matchup because a lot of people come to see the Knicks play. You just want to play well on a floor like this.”
However, Irving cautioned not to call him a New Yorker. “I’m not from there, I’m from Jersey,” Irving said. “Let’s get that straight. I love New York, but I’m from Jersey.”
Steve Kyler: Danny Ainge says he’s not going to comment on any conversations with Kyrie Irving about his future, says he’ll deal with that when it comes
Adrian Wojnarowski: Irving thrilled w/ joining Celtics and they’ll have great chance to eventually re-sign him. Boston made deal with strong belief he’ll stay.
Storyline Hype Rumor visits per day for the last week
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December 13, 2018 | 2:31 am EST Update
This chatter fills sports talk radio shows, Twitter debates, message boards, broadcast airwaves, and more. The noise also ramps up when Leonard goes to places he has been linked, such as Los Angeles. “I focus on what we’re doing,” Leonard said of his reaction to all the speculation prior to his Raptors knocking off the Clippers Tuesday night (without him due to a sore hip). “I don’t buy into reading media, don’t have no social media, so just focus on what’s in front of me. At that time it’s either my family or playing basketball.” Does what is being said bother him? “Not at all. I don’t watch TV too much,” Leonard said, adding he uses apps to watch movies and TV shows.
“What I have to do is install this thing and play in the right way to go where I want to go, and outside noise, it’s always going to be there, is part of this job and this business. I just take this as a challenge,” said Boylen, who worked for the San Antonio Spurs for a couple of seasons under coach Greg Popovich before arriving in Chicago in 2015. “In San Antonio, they have standards of behavior and standards of play, and we are establishing those in here, but we can’t do that without practicing, and we cannot do that without being pushed. We are in a different place, nothing wrong with that, but we are going to work hard,” Boylen said.
“I think everything got blown out of proportion, but we are in a good state, the team is good and we are all together,” Bulls guard Zach LaVine said. “Always going on the road … in a different country where we can all be together is good because we can bond. I think it’s going to be a good time here.”
For the first time, Markkanen addressed his thinking, which led to two hours of team meetings to hash out an emotional first week under new coach Jim Boylen. “I wanted to have my opinion and let players know what I think,” Markkanen told the Tribune on Wednesday. “I think I can be one of the leaders of the team. That’s what I suggested. That’s how it went.”
Before Wednesday’s game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted in rather strong terms a big reason he feels the Jazz have been inconsistent thus far, and also made a prediction about the rest of their season. “With Utah, I just think everybody’s overlooking something that nobody wants to hear about: Their schedule has been outrageous,” he said. “They’ve basically lived in a hotel for the first six weeks of the season. Come talk to me in two months and we’ll see what their record is. I think they’ll be climbing up that Western Conference pretty quickly.”
Christopher Hine: Derrick Rose: “There wasn’t no communication out there. We didn’t get back and how many transition points did they have? It seems like every time we play against them they just push the ball. It’s that simple. It’s not very complex.”
Josh Lewenberg: Lowry on VanVleet: “He’s a tough little SOB, but that’s why I love him and that’s why he’s going to be in this league a long time. He’s going to do some special things in the league because of how tough he is, mentally and physically.”