Kyrie Irving is letting Knicks fans dream for another year.
The Celtics’ star guard, who has been rumored to have interest in signing with the Knicks should he opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer, hinted at testing the free-agent market in 2019. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday for the first time since March, Irving said he had no intention of signing an extension with the Celtics before next season, his second since coming over in a trade with the Cavaliers last August.
“Contractually, financially, [an extension] just doesn’t make any sense,” Irving said, via ESPN.
Irving pointed to unfinished business in Boston, after knee surgery kept him sidelined during the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics could have used him, too, after he led the team in points (24.4) and assists (5.1) per game during the regular season, nearly matching his career high in points per game from last year.
“I think you guys can feel my attitude is really just redemption next year. Really integrating myself with our team again and really focus on winning a championship,” Irving said. “That’s the only thing I’m really worried about.
“Until I get to that point, then I can’t really answer any questions. I’m pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now.”
Irving acknowledged the inevitability of people speculating about his contract situation, as much as he expressed hope reporters could limit them to “maybe one question a day.” The five-time All-Star would be eligible for a far more lucrative contract if he waited and re-signed with Boston next year.
Irving, 26, seemed most excited when talking about the future of his young Celtics teammates, the likes of Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier, who showed what they are capable of in the playoffs, when having to run the show without Irving and Gordon Hayward.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what [Boston’s young players] experienced — I mean they went to Game 7 of the frickin’ Eastern Conference finals,” Irving said. “… You saw guys that literally are going to be stars in this league for years to come.”
A star Irving didn’t wish to talk about Tuesday, LeBron James has a decision to make this summer and the playoff-ready Celtics could be an intriguing destination for the free agent.
“In this business, I’ve experienced it all and I’ve seen a lot, so we’ll see what management decides,” Irving said of the possibility of reuniting with his former Cavaliers teammate, after their relationship ended on a sour note with Irving reportedly asking to be traded and step out from James’ shadow.
Irving will get his chance in the limelight, whether next year as a champion with the Celtics or months later as a hot free-agent target.
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