With less than one month until he reaches free agency, the Kyrie Irving rumor mill continues to grow more active. Speaking today to reporters, including A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that neither Irving nor his camp has informed the team that the point guard doesn’t want to return next season.
According to Jay King of The Athletic (via Twitter), Ainge went on to say that while he can’t offer a concrete update on Irving’s future, there are ongoing conversations happening with his camp. Ainge added that he’s unsure if certain roster moves would make the Celtics more attractive to Kyrie.
While Ainge isn’t ringing the alarm on the possibility of Irving leaving the Celtics as a free agent, several reporters have been doing so. Ian Begley of SNY.tv wrote today that people around Kyrie “have described the probability of him returning to Boston as a free agent as low.” Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders recently conveyed a similar sentiment, tweeting that he’d heard from about a dozen people around the Celtics that they believe Irving will leave. Jeff Goodman of Stadium (link via NBC Sports Boston) said he’d be surprised if Irving re-signs with the C’s.
Meanwhile, TV and radio hosts like Stephen A. Smith and Colin Cowherd have been suggesting this week that the Nets have emerged as the frontrunners for Irving. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher (link via NBC Sports Boston) recently identified the Nets and Lakers as the best bets to sign Kyrie, but there have been mixed reports on how seriously we should take the Lakers in the Irving sweepstakes.
The Knicks, of course, have long been rumored as a potential Irving destination, though they haven’t been the subject of as much Kyrie buzz lately. Still, sources tell Begley that those around Kyrie say he hasn’t ruled out any teams at this point, including the Knicks.
With Irving’s free agency still several weeks away, it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions yet, but if the All-Star point guard is leaning toward leaving Boston, it would have a significant impact on multiple teams’ offseasons.
The Celtics, for instance, are considered a leading contender in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. If they’re worried about losing Irving, they could pursue a Davis trade more aggressively prior to free agency in an attempt to change Kyrie’s mind — or they could become more reluctant to trade for AD if they don’t believe Irving would stick around to play alongside him.