Despite being eligible for a contract extension this summer, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is apparently not interested, reports Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Irving is quoted as saying he is “pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now,” because “contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Irving is instead focused on getting healthy for next season and helping Boston take another step towards an NBA Championship, saying that he intends to deflect focus off of his contract situation.
“The focus is solely on winning a championship next year. I don’t think [impending free agency will] necessarily have an effect. I’m doing my best to kind of deflect all that and focus on what’s in front of us.”
As for the extension-related issue, Irving’s logic is financially sound, as the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players’ association caps the length of veteran extensions to five seasons, including the seasons remaining on the current contract. Moreover, it limits the salary in the first year of the actual extension to 120% of the player’s salary the previous season.
Irving, who is under contract next season for $20.1MM and holds a player option for the 2019/20 season worth $21.3MM, could choose to forgo exercising his option and sign a four-year extension worth about $108.1MM. Clearly, that figure is substantial; however, if Irving were to opt out next summer and become an unrestricted free agent, he would be eligible to utilize his Bird rights and sign a five-year deal with the Celtics worth upwards of $188MM, based on the latest salary projections for the 2019/20 season.
Irving, whose current contract is virtually identical to Spurs’ superstar Kawhi Leonard, is not eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension like Leonard because he hasn’t met the Designated Veteran Player 35% Max Criteria, nor has he remained with the same team throughout his current contract.
Irving was also asked about the prospect of potentially being reunited with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, saying that “in this business, I’ve experienced it all and I’ve seen a lot, so we’ll see what management decides.”
Irving further added that he’s navigating his rehab with caution but that he’s excited about his targeted return date of mid-to-late September.