As expected, Kyrie Irving won’t exercise his player option for the 2019/20 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Opting in would have ensured that Irving was under contract with the Celtics next season for $21,329,752. Instead, he’ll reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
Irving reportedly had a June 13 deadline for picking up his player option. As Charania notes (via Twitter), the star point guard doesn’t technically have to submit any paperwork to turn down the option, so he’ll simply let that deadline pass without taking any action.
[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2019/20]
Irving, 27, put up excellent numbers in Boston this past season, averaging a team-high 23.8 PPG to go along with career-highs in APG (6.9) and RPG (5.0). He shot 48.7% from the field, including 40.1% from beyond the three-point line, earning a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.
Despite his impressive individual stats, it was a tumultuous year for Irving and the Celtics, who didn’t meet preseason expectations and faced frequent questions about team chemistry. After publicly vowing last fall to re-sign with the Celtics at season’s end, Irving wavered on that stance over the course of the year and called out teammates in comments to the media when the club struggled.
Following Boston’s second-round elimination at the hands of the Bucks, the idea of Irving re-signing with the Celtics increasingly appeared to be a long shot. He has been repeatedly linked to the Knicks throughout the season, with the Nets emerging as the favorite in recent weeks. Teams monitoring the situation currently view Brooklyn as Irving’s most likely destination, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reiterated today.
Still, while the Celtics appear to be preparing for life without Kyrie, they also haven’t entirely given up on the idea of re-signing him, according to a Tuesday report. It’s also not clear if – or how – Kevin Durant‘s Achilles injury may impact Irving’s plans. There were rumors throughout the year that the two friends may look to team up for the Knicks or another club.
The Celtics could offer Irving a five-year deal worth up to a projected $189.7MM, while a rival team could max out at $140.6MM.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.