Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is slated to become a free agent during the summer of 2019 after revealing that he would not sign a contract extension with the team. That’s good news for the New York Knicks.
The 26-year-old, who was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Celtics prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, is considered one of the best at his position, accruing five All-Star Game appearances and a championship alongside LeBron James in 2016.
His arrival in Boston was expected to make the Celtics one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, which they were. But they managed to do so without Irving down the stretch after he was forced to undergo knee surgery which cut his season short after just 60 games. The Celtics were also without their new signing Gordon Hayward, who was injured on the opening night of the season.
With the impending departure of LeBron James from the Cavaliers, the Celtics could very well be the top team in the East if Irving’s former teammate decides to make a move out to the Western Conference. Yet his intentions to hit the free-agent market might inhibit that from actually happening.
The Knicks have been linked with Irving since his initial desire to be traded from Cleveland last summer. The New Jersey native grew up rooting for the Knicks and informed Cavaliers management that he would like to be traded to either New York, the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves or Miami Heat.
While that didn’t happen, Irving has continued to make his affection for the Knicks known, telling Kristaps Porzingis that he would love to play with him (h/t SNY).
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Steven A. Smith reported on “First Take” that Irving “would love” to be playing at Madison Square Garden.
It’s a good thing that Irving isn’t hitting free agency this year considering the Knicks don’t have a lot of cap space to play with. Next summer, however, is a different story as the team is expected to clear a considerable amount of room to make at least one serious run at a marquee free agent.
Irving is slated to hit a big-time payday in the summer of 2019 and would provide the Knicks with its best point guard since Walt Frazier. Heading into this summer, the Knicks are working with a crowded crop of young point guards including Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina, who is expected to spend time at the 2 next year.