Kyrie Irving will become an unrestricted free agent July 1 when he opts out of the final-year of his deal and Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge says the plan is to offer the star point guard a new deal that will see him remain with the franchise for the foreseeable future.
The six-time NBA All-Star committed his long-term future to the team during a fan event prior to the start of the season at TD Garden – home of the Celtics – but has since backtracked by suggesting he would reveal his decision on July 1. Irving has shown his disappointment with the team at various points during the regular season, which has led to many suggesting he could leave in the summer, with New York Knicks said to be leading the chase.
Irving questioned the commitment and lack of experience of his teammates and later apologized for doing so. He even apologized to LeBron James for not seeing the bigger picture while playing alongside him in Cleveland and admitted he understood the struggles that come with being the leader of a team.
Celtics were picked as the favorites to progress from the Eastern Conference, but they have not meshed as well as expected and managed only fourth place behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. Celtics is facing Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, and Irving was happy after they won the opening game with a solid defensive performance.
Ainge confirmed that nothing had changed from the management’s side despite Irving questioning his teammates and raising doubts about their capabilities. Celtics was keen to re-sign the point guard to a new deal in the summer.
“Yes,” Ainge’s replied when asked by Chris Mannix if the Celtics still wanted to lock up Irving for the long-term, as quoted on sports Illustrated.
The Celtics general manager, said: “No,” when asked if anything happened this season that made the team management change their mind about offering Irving a new long-term deal.
Ainge was certain that Irving was happy and believed his main frustrations lie in the team not performing as per his expectation. Ainge also believed that the 2016 NBA champion’s desire to get better would help the entire team.
“I don’t think free agency is wearing on him,” Ainge said. “I think that not being able to live up to expectations as a team is wearing on him more than that. But I feel like he’s in a good place. And ending the season and starting the playoffs I feel like his mind is in a fresher place than it was a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to great things with Kyrie.”