The Boston Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to a seven-game series. That was without superstar Kyrie Irving in the lineup or former All-Star Gordon Hayward. The assumption was that the Celtics, who finished second in the Eastern Conference with 55 wins last season, could only get better as they got Irving and Hayward back in the lineup.
Following a February slump, some bizarre body language from Irving and some behind-the-scenes rumors, it looks like Irving’s stay with Boston might not last beyond this season. The oddsmakers at BetDSI have posted odds on if he’ll sign with the New York Knicks in the offseason and it’s looking like a real possibility.
Will Kyrie Irving Sign With The New York Knicks Before The 2019-20 Season?
Irving Can Opt Out
There’s plenty of speculation regarding Irving’s future and the main reason is because he can opt out after this season. He has a player option for $21.3 million for 2019-2020 but he’s likely to decline that and hit free agency. Even if he stays with the Celtics, they’re going to offer him a much bigger payday than that.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
While Irving has publicly stated that his intentions are to stay with the Celtics, there are some that have wondered about his actions. For starters, he called up LeBron James, who now plays with the Los Angeles Lakers, and apologized for how he handled things back when the two were with the Cavs. It’s a bit odd that Irving would just randomly, out of the blue do that.
Secondly, there’s his body language. While he’s still playing relatively well, he just looks miserable. Several pundits have suggested as much but you don’t have to be a beat reporter for the Celtics to notice that he’s not having much fun.
There was also the behind-the-scenes chatter with good friend Kevin Durant during the All-Star weekend, which was caught on camera. It was probably nothing but the optics continue to lend themselves to tell a narrative that Irving might be thinking about leaving.
Why The Knicks?
There’s long been a rumor that the Knicks are the apple of Irving’s eye. They have the salary cap space for two max contracts this offseason, which means that if Irving does decide to come, they could orchestrate quite the turnaround.
Durant is also a soon-to-be free agent and he’s also had some chemistry issues in Golden State (with Draymond Green), so if he wants to play with his buddy Irving, he has a good opportunity. The Knicks are in tank-mode, so if they can earn the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, pull Irving and Durant, they could immediately become a contender in the Eastern Conference. That’s a lot of ifs but the Knicks have the money and the biggest stage in basketball. Irving left Cleveland because he wanted to greater marketability and he’ll get that in New York.
Knicks Are Still A Longshot
While the Knicks are a possibility — one that grows by the day as the Celtics struggle — the greater likelihood is Irving returns. Yes, there are chemistry issues but the Celtics are a franchise that’s committed to winning. The Knicks have been miserable for years. The Celtics have the assets to acquire Anthony Davis while the Knicks would be a barren roster — even if Irving and Durant arrived. Lastly, the Celtics can offer more money to Irving, which is a big factor.
There are rumors galore but don’t be surprised if the Celtics reshape their roster significantly in the offseason to accommodate Irving. That’s more likely to happen than Irving walking out the door.
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