Irving is expected to opt out of a $21.3MM salary for next season and become part of a stellar free agent class that will also include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson. The Knicks will have enough cap room to make a maximum offer if they use the stretch provision on Joakim Noah, and team officials see Irving as the best fit and most accessible target.
“I can tell you right now, the New York Knicks, he is their No. 1 target,” Blakely said. “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.”
Irving is about to enter his second season with the Celtics after being acquired from Cleveland last summer. He missed the playoffs after having surgery on his left knee late in the season, but has reportedly made a full recovery and is expected to be ready for training camp. Irving posted a 24.4/3.8/5.1 line in 60 games last season.
Boston is hoping to re-sign Irving, of course, but the team will be faced with some tough financial choices. Terry Rozier, who excelled in the playoffs in Irving’s absence, is entering a contract year, Marcus Morris will be a free agent and Al Horford and Aron Baynes can join Irving in opting out of their 2019/20 deals.