Celtics

Kyrie Irving opens door to speculation that he'll leave Celtics via free agency

Kyrie Irving opens door to speculation that he'll leave Celtics via free agency

After days of trade speculation that swirled around Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics like a polar vortex, the six-time All-Star -- who missed the last two games with a left hip injury -- didn't exactly ice the rumor mill when meeting the media this morning prior to tonight's C's-Knicks game.

His return to Boston with a multi-year, max contract this summer seemed a given after he proclaimed in the preseason that he wanted to return to the Celtics.

However, when asked by reporters at the team's shootaround if he has changed his mind, Irving replied, “Ask me July 1.”

That is when the Celtics’ star becomes an unrestricted free agent and will be among the most sought-after players in the league, as part of a free agent class that includes Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.

He also said: "At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career."

MORE ON KYRIE

 

“I spent the last eight years," he said, "trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do -- managers, other personnel -- and I don't owe anybody shit.

"I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of pieces. That’s what excited me at the beginning of the season."

While Irving’s return now seems, at a minimum, far from a given, he indicated on Friday that his focus remains on helping the Celtics continue to grow in what has been a season that began with NBA Finals aspirations and despite a rocky start, remains the team’s goal.

But all the talk about Irving’s next move doesn’t help.

“People talk about my future all the time,” he said. “To me, it’s unfair to me, because I have a focus to really help this team be successful. When it starts getting out of hand and people start getting attacked personally and ‘he said she said,’ that’s so fifth grade and elementary."

Irving added: “It’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who said what’s best for him, like, it doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary, and of course it’s going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that. I’m a professional, I’m not going to disrespect anybody but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family.”

Irving having a more open mind about his impending free agency is a surprise to some, but at the same time predictable considering recent developments.

First came the news earlier this week that Anthony Davis wanted out of New Orleans. Davis is a player the Celtics have coveted for some time but can’t acquire via trade until July 1 because of both he and Irving are signed to contracts that reward high-achieving, young players - better known as the Rose Rule - and teams are not allowed to have two players on their roster signed by the Rose Deal at the same time.

If that wasn’t enough, then came the New York Knicks trading away Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas which will free up enough salary cap space for New York to sign a pair of salary maxed players.

The Knicks have made no secret about wanting Irving this summer, and potentially pair him with another superstar (Kevin Durant? Kawhi Leonard?) and now have the salary cap space to do so.

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Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter has been nothing but supportive of his Boston Celtics teammates since joining the squad this summer.

Whether it's been mentoring Tacko Fall or advocating for his young teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to make the All-Star Game, Kanter has had an impact on the C's

And evidently, Kanter's support even extends to former teammates..

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On Saturday night, Kanter took to Twitter to implore NBA coaches to pick Rudy Gobert for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Kanter and Gobert were teammates for a season and a half together with the Utah Jazz before Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gobert's performance against the Dallas Mavericks prompted Kanter's tweet. In the Saturday contest, Gobert totaled 22 points, 17 boards, and five blocks, including a game-winning one at the end of regulation.

Despite his defensive prowess, Gobert has never made an All-Star appearance. He has two Defensive Player of the Year awards and two All-NBA nods, but the All-Star appearance has eluded him.

Given that Gobert is averaging 15.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game, and is shooting 68.3 percent from the field, it probably should be his year to make it. We'll see if Kanter's tweet has any influence on the minds of the coaches voting for All-Star reserves.

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How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

The Maine Red Claws came into the Westchester County Center Saturday night looking to extend their win streak to three. No strangers to furious late-game rallies of late, Maine got another such scare just when things were looking comfy. 

The Westchester Knicks seized control in the fourth quarter, using a 14-2 run to take a 97-94 lead with six minutes to go. But that momentum was short-lived. Sparked by a three-pointer from 2019 second-round pick Tremont Waters, the Claws closed the game out on a 16-6 run to give them their 10th win in 11 games.

Here's a look at Waters and 2019 first-round pick Romeo Langford’s best highlights, and their final stat lines.

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TREMONT WATERS

As usual, the rookie from LSU — who grew up in New Haven, just an hour north of the Knicks’ arena in White Plains, N.Y. — was one of Maine’s steadiest. With an effective field goal percentage of 63 and a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, he took command when the Claws needed him most. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds, all of them defensive.

ROMEO LANGFORD

It wasn’t a pretty night for Langford, who started the evening 2 for 10 from the floor and finished 33 percent shooting for 14 points. But despite the lack of stat sheet appeal, he was a team-high plus-14 in 33 minutes.

After Waters, the two most productive nights belonged to Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Maten, the former SEC Player of the Year at Georgia, was 8 for 12 from the floor for a team-high 23 points and nine rebounds despite being a team-worst minus-6. Gates was 3 for 8 from three-point range and a plus-10, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Red Claws are now 8-1 in January, good enough for second in the G League’s Eastern Conference. Optimism continues to bloom with this young but talented roster.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.