Here's why Celtics believe Kyrie Irving will stay in Boston
BOSTON -- While mixing in time to talk about his upcoming movie Uncle Drew along with reflecting upon this past season with the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving made it clear that an extension between him and the Celtics was not in the cards.
And the reason is pretty simple: Money.
By opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent after this upcoming season, Irving has the chance to earn about $80 million more than what he would by signing what would amount to a four-year extension worth $107 million.
While this was certainly not what Celtics fans wanted to hear, Irving is making what for him, is a good business decision. But the bigger concern for Celtics fans is that by not locking him up to an extension, it creates the chance for another team to potentially swoop him up and leave Boston with nothing in return. Even so, the Celtics remain cautiously confident that Irving will be in a Celtics uniform for many years to come.
Here’s a look at five reasons why Irving’s long-term future will be with the Boston Celtics.
ROSTER TALKS WITH MANAGEMENT
Kyrie Irving is wise enough to know that Danny Ainge is going to assemble the best talent he can, and Brad Stevens is going to maximize to the best of his ability the roster he’s given. The fact that both men have included Irving in conversations speaks to how they view him as a leader of this team. And for Irving, it’s exactly what he knew wasn’t going to happen in Cleveland as long as LeBron James was around. Having that kind of connection with the roster shakers and makers, bodes well for Irving wanting to stick around for the long haul.
LOTS OF GREEN IN BOSTON
With outside interests such as movies, commercials and his shoe deal with Nike, Irving isn’t the least bit hard up for a fat payday. But if that was something of significant interest to him, that would be reason enough for him to play with Boston, which can offer him the most money on the free-agent market.
CURRENT, FUTURE ROSTER
As much as Irving talked all season about how special these Celtics were and how they were much more talented than most thought, no one knew for sure how they'd respond to the pressure of the postseason. By and large, they exceeded expectations with their “Next Man Up” approach, which led to an impressive postseason run that ended with a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. Along with the returns of Irving from knee surgery and Gordon Hayward from the ankle injury that cost him all but five minutes of last season, Boston has the kind of roster -- with key, superstar-esque talent -- that can compete right now, with a young core of potential stars that includes Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier. The blending of those two worlds, proven stars flanked by on-the-rise stars, is among the many traits that certainly appeal to Irving.
FRONT OFFICE STABILITY
There are few superstars who understand the volatile nature of the NBA as well as Kyrie Irving. In his six seasons in Cleveland, Irving had four different coaches and three different general managers. For a young star in the NBA looking to prove his worth, not only as a player but a leader who can have success, this was not a recipe for success. In Boston, the least of Irving’s worries should be Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, and head coach Brad Stevens. Both have tremendous stability and aren’t looking to do anything other than help elevate the Celtics and bring home Banner 18, a goal Irving shares with them.
LEADING A SAILING -- NOT A SINKING -- SHIP
When Irving came into the NBA, he joined a Cavaliers team that was just plain awful. As he progressed to the point where he was a no-brainer All-Star, the wins were still on the low end but his potential as a leader was trending in the right direction. In came LeBron James, the Cavs started winning, and the narrative had more to do with James’ ability to lead Cleveland to unprecedented heights. But in Boston, Irving has shown he can, in fact, lead a team to success. Irving has been the best player on a really young team that showed an ability and understanding of how to win at this level, that you seldom see in so many young players who constitute the team’s core. And as you talk with them most will credit Irving, who allowed them to play their game while at the same time remaining one of the NBA’s most impactful performers. Coming from being a leader on a bad team to being the second-in-command to once again thrust into a position of leadership on a different team, Irving has every reason to want to stay in the moment. Because right now, he’s exactly where he wants to be -- front and center of the NBA landscape, backed by a talented team of players who, like himself, have their sights on bringing home Banner 18.