We're still months away from tipping off the 2018-19 season, but a loaded free-agent class next summer including star point guard Kyrie Irving has many around the NBA keeping an eye on July.
The Boston Celtics point guard is not committing his long-term future to the team that traded for him last year, the 26-year-old shockingly asking for to be shipped away from the Cleveland Cavaliers after six years.
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With his contract expiring at the end of this upcoming season, Irving is slated to become one of the most highly-coveted free agents of a summer that could also see Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant hit the market as well.
Irving is one of the most dynamic point guards in the game, blending an arsenal of ball-handling skills with smooth finishing. The five-time All-Star saw his 2017-18 season shortened to just 60 games due to injury, but he was still able to average 24.4 and 5.1 assists per game.
The prospect of his availability has already put the league on notice as teams are positioning themselves to offer big contracts in 2019, including both New York teams in the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
It looks as though the sports gambling world is preparing for the Irving sweepstakes, too, as BookMarker released its odds on where Irving will be playing next season:
Kyrie Irving 2019-20 team odds
Boston Celtics: +105
New York Knicks: +250
Field/Any other team: +300
Brooklyn Nets: +450
New Orleans Pelicans: +1000
Boston is still the favorite to retain Irving next year and it's easy to see why. As the class of the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are slated for a serious championship run in 2018-19 as the team is expected to be fully healthy, finally uniting Irving and Jayson Tatum with Gordon Hayward.
With LeBron James out of the East, they along with the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to represent the conference in the NBA Finals, though the Golden State Warriors are expected to continue their reign as kings of the league.
But the Knicks have long been linked with Irving since his trade request from Cleveland.
Growing up in New Jersey just minutes away from Madison Square Garden, it is believed that he wants to make his way back to the Big Apple to help turn around the Knicks culture.
It's a big ask considering the Knicks have been irrelevant for the better part of the last two decades. However, they are freeing up space for some max deals to bring in superstar talent alongside Kristaps Porzingis and possibly rookie Kevin Knox, who electrified the NBA during the Summer League.
The Nets provide another homecoming option for Irving as the Brooklynites are finally trending in the right direction after being gutted by the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade in 2013. Brooklyn is slated to have two max-salary slots to offer and thus would be poised for its best stretch since moving from New Jersey.