Kyrie Irving

Rival Teams Wary Of Signing Kyrie Irving?

Multiple teams that were said to have interest in pursuing Kyrie Irving this summer are having second thoughts, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. Irving will undoubtedly land a max contract, though his list of suitors may not be as long as anticipated just months ago.

The pause on Irving is a byproduct of how he ended his campaign with the Celtics. Two clubs are telling people around the league that they will only go after the point guard if another marquee free agent says he wants to play with Irving. Bulpett writes that the main target for each of these franchises is a different player and one of the teams had concerns that ownership would overrule the front office and dictate an Irving pursuit, though those concerns have been alleviated.

The talk behind the scenes is all over the place. Bulpett heard months ago that a source within the Knicks‘ front office was convinced that Irving and Kevin Durant were coming to New York. However, the scribe hears from an NBA agent that Irving wants the Nets and Durant favors the Knicks, thus causing a dilemma in the duo teaming up. Someone within the Warriors‘ organization tells Bulpett that Irving and Durant definitely spoke about the possibility of joining forces and Bulpett hears from another source that the Brooklyn talk is just a smokescreen.

The Celtics continue to hold out hope that Irving will re-sign with the team. It was reported earlier in the week that the front office believed that trading for Anthony Davis would make Irving warm up to the idea of returning. Irving has a Nike commercial in which he has his number retired in Boston and the organization hopes that becomes reality.

Two summers ago when Irving demanded a trade from the Cavs, some front offices were told by his camp that he would not re-sign with them. Some executives got the feeling that Irving got exactly what he wanted with the trade to Boston.

“We were told that the team he wanted to go to was getting ready to trade for him,” one general manager tells Bulpett. “And that team was Boston. So the Celtics were where he wanted to go. He got what he wanted. Now here we are two years later. Crazy.”

Celtics Rumors: Ainge, Irving, Bickerstaff

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge isn’t in attendance this week at the draft combine in Chicago, but he’s recovering well after suffering a mild heart attack earlier this month, his son Austin Ainge tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

“He’s back at it,” said the younger Ainge, who is also the team’s director of player personnel. “He’s doing great. He’s been texting me 100 times a day. He loves his job, and he wants to continue doing it.”

It’s unclear when Danny might start traveling again, and Austin acknowledges that there was some discussion about whether his father should step back from his role for health reasons. However, according to Austin, doctors have said that the Celtics’ longtime head of basketball operations is “healthy and doing great” after the scare.

“He’s doing well and he’s very motivated,” Austin said. “Pretty much life back to normal. It didn’t take him long to turn into 60-year-old Dennis the Menace again.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Several NBA executives, team officials, and scouts spoke to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, weighing in with their opinions on what Kyrie Irving will do as a free agent this summer. Blakeley relays a number of comments from those sources, noting that they run the gamut. One Eastern Conference GM who believes Irving will leave the Celtics said that Kyrie “could care less about” the money he’d be giving up by joining a new team. Conversely, a Western Conference front-office official argues that Kyrie is “playing all of you guys right now” and that he’ll end up re-signing with Boston.
  • Unlike those execs, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck didn’t have much to say about Irving this week. As Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston relays, Grousbeck essentially declined comment when asked about Kyrie’s future during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston takes a deep dive into what the Celtics’ offseason might look like if Irving heads elsewhere.
  • After interviewing for the Cavaliers’ and Lakers’ head coaching jobs, J.B. Bickerstaff met with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens at the draft combine in Chicago, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post (via Twitter). Boston appears to be eyeing Bickerstaff as a potential assistant after losing Micah Shrewsberry to Purdue.

Celtics Believe Kyrie Irving Stays If Team Acquires Anthony Davis

The Celtics still have eyes for an Anthony DavisKyrie Irving pairing. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge wants to bring back Irving and he believes that the point guard will re-sign if Boston trades for Davis, sources tell Frank Isola of The Athletic.

The Pelicans won the NBA draft lottery but that hasn’t curbed Davis’ desire to leave the franchise. Boston doesn’t appear to be high on his wish list, though the six-time All-Star doesn’t own a no-trade clause (no player in the NBA currently does), so his landing spot will not necessarily be on his terms.

The Celtics have a collection of young assets and picks to offer new VP of basketball operations David Griffin. Jayson Tatum is the team’s top asset, though it’s unclear if Boston will include him in trade talks.

Irving appeared distant from teammates during the Celtics’ series loss to the Bucks and speculation that he could bolt for another organization continues. The Lakers and Nets are believed to be possibilities for Irving. The Knicks have been tied to the point guard for quite some time.

New York is expected to pursue two max-level free agents. There are plenty of NBA executives, coaches, players and agents who are “convinced” Durant is going to the Knicks, Isola writes. Irving has been linked as Durant’s future partner in the Big Apple.

Irving isn’t the only 2018/19 Celtics who could find himself in New York next season. The Knicks reportedly have interest in Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. However, they’d be secondary targets behind the top tier of upcoming free agents.

Knicks Have Interest In Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris

While Kyrie Irving has been linked to New York for months, he’s not the only Celtics free agent that the Knicks will have their eye on this offseason. League sources tell A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that the Knicks will also have interest in Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris.

Rozier, who is finishing his rookie contract with Boston, will be eligible for restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics will have the option to match any offer sheet he signs, assuming they issue him a qualifying offer to retain his rights. Morris will be an unrestricted free agent.

While Rozier and Morris may be among the names on the Knicks’ wish list, the team figures to use its cap room to target top-tier free agents like Irving and Kevin Durant before turning to its Plan B or C. According to Blakely, New York has also expressed some interest in Daniel Theis, but he’d be even further down the club’s list, and isn’t considered a likely target.

Rozier’s free agency should be one of the more interesting cases this summer, particularly among non-stars. He spoke at the end of the Celtics’ season about wanting a “fresh start” and a more prominent role, whether that happens in Boston or elsewhere. And during an appearance today on ESPN’s Get Up (video link via Chris Grenham of NESN), he expressed little interest in returning to Boston if the C’s plan to run it back in 2019/20 with the same roster.

“I might have to go,” Rozier told Stephen A. Smith when asked about that scenario. “I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know that I’m not trying to step into that again.”

During the same interview, Rozier also didn’t exactly offer an enthusiastic endorsement for his experience of playing alongside – and behind – Irving in Boston.

“He’s a great guy, great leader,” Rozier said of Irving (video link via The Undefeated). “You know, you just have to adjust to his style. Whatever Kyrie wants done, he’s gonna show it, that’s what he wants done. You have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game and every day.”

Celtics Notes: Irving, Lottery, Hayward, Shrewsberry

Although many Celtics fans have turned on Kyrie Irving following a disappointing playoff performance, losing him in free agency would be a worst-case scenario for the franchise, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Even though he damaged his reputation and alienated younger teammates this year, Irving remains among the league’s best players at a crucial position, Forsberg states, and would be very difficult to replace.

Even if they subtract Irving’s $21.3MM salary for next season, the Celtics won’t have much cap room to work with, assuming Al Horford opts for one more season at $30.1MM. Losing Irving would also leave Boston without a superstar presence who might attract other stars or inspire Anthony Davis to sign a long-term deal if the Celtics trade for him.

A sign-and-trade deal involving Irving probably isn’t realistic, Forsberg adds. The Celtics wouldn’t be able to offer a fifth season in that scenario and it would only benefit a team that doesn’t have the cap space to sign him. Teams where Irving might be headed, such as the Knicks, Nets, Clippers or Lakers, can already offer a max deal.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Tuesday’s draft lottery will help define the Celtics’ plans for the offseason, notes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. With the Clippers’ pick at No. 20 and their own selection at 22 already in hand, Boston will wait to see what happens with the Kings’ and Grizzlies’ choices. The Celtics will receive Sacramento’s pick unless it lands at No. 1 and Memphis’ choice if it’s outside of the top eight. All those selections could be valuable in a potential trade for Davis.
  • Gordon Hayward is eager for another offseason to continue his comeback from a devastating ankle injury, Bulpett relays in a separate story. “I’m definitely looking forward to having a good summer, not dealing as much with rehab but still definitely working on the ankle and all that type of stuff,” he said. “But that’s going to be nowhere near as much as before. I’m a lot of time removed from the surgery, and that’s for sure exciting. Now I can do what I’ve always done every summer, and I’m for sure looking forward to that, getting back to that and really digging in and trying to have a really good summer.”
  • Micah Shrewsberry tells Dustin Dopirak of The Athletic that his decision to leave the Celtics’ staff for a job at Purdue was simply a matter of preferring the college game. “My personality is more geared toward the college side,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m a relationships guy. If you would ask anybody that’s run across me, I value relationships, continuing and maintaining and having those. That’s something you get in college.”

Pelicans Notes: Celtics Trade, Knox, Gentry, Trainer

The Celtics’ flameout in the postseason may have reduced the possibility of the Pelicans trading Anthony Davis to Boston, according to Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate. A package of forward Jayson Tatum and a handful of the Celtics’ first-round draft picks would have been considered a fair return for Davis, who can become a free agent after next season. However, Tatum regressed in his second season and struggled during the postseason, Kushner continues. Boston’s incentive to acquire Davis has diminished with the likely departure of Kyrie Irving and the lack of enough quality pieces around Davis after a potential trade to make a championship run, Kushner adds.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • The team’s front office has quietly gathered intelligence on the Knicks’ first-round pick, forward Kevin Knox, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Knox averaged 12.8 PPG in his rookie campaign and improved his shooting percentage as the season went along. If the Knicks win the lottery, that pick plus Knox and other assets could be attractive to New Orleans. However, there’s no consensus within the Knicks organization about trading that pick, even for a shot at Davis, Begley adds.
  • Alvin Gentry’s personality is the main reason why new VP of basketball operations David Griffin retained him, Kushner reveals in a separate story. Gentry’s lighthearted, professional and charismatic persona held the locker room together after Davis’ trade request, and Gentry also deftly handled the situation in the media, Kushner continues. Gentry and Griffin developed a longstanding friendship when they worked together with the Suns, Kushner adds.
  • Griffin said new athletic trainer Aaron Nelson changed the way he approached scouting, as he detailed to The Athletic’s William Guillory. Griffin poached Nelson from the Suns staff. They have been friends since 1993. “As I watched Aaron and his staff do what they were doing, it changed the way I scouted players,” Griffin said. “It changed what I looked for in players. My devotion to what they were doing in terms of changing player bio-mechanics was really complete. It literally impacted every part of my career after that.”

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Would Kyrie Irving truly consider joining forces with LeBron James again? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, it’s a real possibility (hat tip to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype). Windhorst believes a reunion could be in the works, especially if the Lakers hire Jason Kidd as their head coach. Irving has even talked about it, according to Windhorst.

“That door, which was deadbolted, has been un-deadbolted and has now been cracked open,” Windhorst said. “… It might even be opening more by the day. And I say that just because I think it’s on Kyrie’s radar, it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers.”

We have more on Irving, who becomes an unrestricted free agent once he declines his $21.3MM player option:

  • Irving’s poor performance against Milwaukee in the conference semifinals should concern the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post opines. The Knicks will try to sign two top-level free agents but if they don’t get Kevin Durant or trade for Anthony Davis, Irving might be a poor fit because he’s only proven he can be the No. 2 star on a championship-caliber team, Berman continues. There is genuine debate within the front office whether they’d be better off chasing Hornets All-Star guard Kemba Walker instead of Irving, Berman adds.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart defended Irving against critics who believe Irving’s leadership skills led to poor chemistry in the locker room, according to an ESPN report. Smart feels Irving was thrust into a difficult situation. “Probably a few amount of people in this world know what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well,” Smart said. “He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships. … This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about it, and he’s worried about coming in and disrupting us. We took him in with full arms. We tried to understand. But like I said, we never really understood because we’re not in his shoes.”
  • It seems almost inevitable that Irving will sign elsewhere this summer, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes. When Boston’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded for Irving two years ago, it was a safe bet that he’d emerge as a mature and credible leader of a title-contending team, Aldridge continues. Irving came up well short of the mark, as he was AWOL emotionally much of this season, Aldridge adds.

Knicks Notes: Zion, Kyrie, Kemba, Young Players

While Knicks head coach David Fizdale didn’t name the Duke forward specifically, he made it clear during an appearance this week on The Dan Patrick Show that if his team lands the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft lottery, Zion Williamson will be the choice.

“If we win the lottery, do we know who we’re taking?” Fizdale said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Yes.”

Of course, if the Knicks do land that first overall selection, speculation about a possible Anthony Davis trade would only increase during the weeks leading up to the draft. Fizdale wasn’t asked about that scenario during his appearance on Patrick’s show, but ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider-only link) took a look this week at whether or not it would make sense to seriously consider moving Williamson if the Knicks grab that No. 1 spot.

In Pelton’s view, trading Williamson in a package for Davis would give the Knicks the best chance to win in the short term, but it’s unclear how well-suited the rest of the roster will be to contending immediately. Since Zion could be a part of a contending team in New York for years to come, Pelton would be inclined to hang onto him if the Knicks are lucky enough to draft him.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Now that Kyrie Irving‘s Celtics have been officially eliminated from the postseason, the Knicks are poised to be a part of the July conversation about the point guard’s potential free agent destinations, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details.
  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that some members of the Knicks’ organization on high on another free agent point guard, Kemba Walker. However, that interest likely wouldn’t matter much if Kevin Durant commits to New York and wants to team up with Irving, says Begley. According to Begley, some opposing executives believe that the Knicks will be willing to pursue any player Durant wants to play with if it ensures that KD will choose New York.
  • The Knicks will send their assistant coaches on the road in the coming days to work out with young players like Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson, and Dennis Smith Jr., sources tell Begley. Kevin Knox and head coach David Fizdale have already met up for some offseason work, as the team has exhibited an increased focus on developing its prospects.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Rozier, Davis

The Celtics understood the chance they were taking with Kyrie Irving when they traded for him two years ago, writes Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Irving wanted to leave a successful situation in Cleveland because he was tired of playing a supporting role to LeBron James. Boston’s front office knew Irving had a reputation that might make him a tough fit, but was willing to accept the risk.

“Doesn’t want to listen to anybody,” a Cavaliers source told Goodman. “I’ve been around more selfish guys, but when you add up those three – moody, immature and tough to coach – he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

There’s speculation that Irving’s time in Boston might be done as he gets ready to opt out of a $21.3MM salary and test the free agent market. If he leaves, his final game in a Celtics uniform will be a 6 for 21 shooting performance in a 25-point loss in Milwaukee.

“Everyone respects his talent,” a Celtics player told Goodman earlier this season, “but he’s hard to play with. It’s all about him.”

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • A breakup would be best for both Irving and the Celtics, contends Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Boston needed to add a star when president of basketball operations Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on the Cleveland deal, but it hasn’t worked out the way he hoped. Facing his first playoff test with the Celtics, Irving wilted badly, playing well in just one of the five games against the Bucks. On top of that, he teammates seemed to take on his personality, pointing fingers at each other throughout the season and not fighting back when things got tough in the playoffs.
  • Restricted free agent Terry Rozier didn’t hold back in addressing the issues that affected the team, relays Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports“I sacrificed the most out of anybody,” said Rozier, who was moved to a backup role after a stellar performance in last year’s playoffs. “I’m a top point guard in this league. I feel like it’s a fresh start, whether I’m here or whether I’m gone.” Rozier admitted that coach Brad Stevens was in a difficult position “dealing with all these guys with attitudes” and said he saw warning signs on the first day of training camp.
  • The Celtics’ offseason focus will turn not only to Irving, but also to Anthony Davis trade talks, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Boston was considered to be the favorite to land Davis once the trade deadline passed, but Marks notes that two important changes have occurred since then. David Griffin has taken over as head of basketball operations in New Orleans and will make an effort to get Davis to reconsider his trade demand, and Irving, who would be a selling point to get Davis to sign a long-term deal in Boston, may be on the way out.

Kyler’s Latest: Kawhi, Irving, Durant, AD, Pacers

Echoing what we heard from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this week, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes that the Raptors are optimistic about having a legit shot to re-sign Kawhi Leonard.

While they’ll face competition from the Clippers – and likely a handful of other teams – the Raptors feel as if they’ve done all they can to gain Leonard’s trust and to make sure he understands what the future could look like if he returns, according to Kyler. That doesn’t mean Leonard won’t take meetings with other teams, or that he’s a lock to re-sign, but Toronto is at least viewed as one of the two frontrunners for the star forward, along with the Clips.

In his latest article, Kyler explores a few other free agent situations from around the NBA, so let’s round up some of the highlights…

  • The Celtics still appear committed to a future with Kyrie Irving, and the idea that Irving and Kevin Durant have already decided to join the Knicks has been shot down by sources close to Irving and to the Knicks, writes Kyler. Still, Kyler notes that most league insiders believe Irving will explore his options on the open market in July, even beyond the Celtics and Knicks.
  • Despite all the Knicks-related chatter, Kyler’s sources are adamant that Durant isn’t talking about his future beyond this season. However, Kyler points out that was also the case in 2016, and all of that year’s KD-to-the-Warriors whispers ultimately came to fruition.
  • New Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin has said he’ll try to get Anthony Davis – and agent Rich Paul – to buy into a future in New Orleans before seriously exploring the trade market for Davis. According to Kyler, Griffin has made it clear “both publicly and privately” that he wants a long-term commitment from Davis if he’s going to retain him. That probably means that the only two realistic outcomes for AD this offseason are a super-max extension or a trade.
  • There’s a growing belief in agent circles that the Clippers, Nets, and Pacers will be more attractive free agent destinations this summer than many league observers may have expected, writes Kyler. L.A. and Brooklyn are more likely than Indiana to land a max free agent, but the Pacers are still worth watching and could also be a player in the Mike Conley sweepstakes if the Grizzlies look to move him, Kyler notes.