BOSTON -- When it comes to Kyrie Irving’s future, it seems everyone has an opinion...including his high school coach.
Kevin Boyle, Irving’s coach at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., is among those optimistic that the 6-foot-3 guard will sign with the New York Knicks this summer after he becomes a free agent.
“I think there’s a good chance in my opinion that Kyrie ends up here [in New York],” Boyle told SNY.tv’s Ian Begley, while making it clear that he was speaking as a fan and not someone who knows what Irving’s plans are for next season. “In my gut, I would think that would work best for him and I would think that [the Knicks] have a really strong chance of that happening.”
It would be a mistake to dismiss Boyle’s opinion, especially when you see that he has worked with some of the NBA’s top players when they were in high school.
In addition to Irving, Boyle has also coached Joel Embiid, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (he was a teammate of Irving’s in high school), D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons as high schoolers.
All of those players, except for Kidd-Gilchrist, have gone on to become an NBA All-Stars.
This season, the Knicks aggressively went about creating roster vacancies and salary cap space to absorb two, maximum-salaried players in what will be a summer where elite, difference-making talent will be available and that includes Irving.
Because the Knicks now have a pair of max salary slots, Irving is believed to be one of the primary targets of New York, along with Golden State’s Kevin Durant.
And the Knicks, owners of the No. 3 pick in the draft next month, are likely to select R.J. Barrett of Duke - another player Boyle has coached.
He tells SNY.tv that pairing Irving and Durant with Barrett might make for better chemistry than the group that Irving played with in Boston this past season.
"Because they [the Celtics' young players] were starting to get established in the NBA, starting to have a lot of success the year before [without Irving in the playoffs],” Boyle said. “With RJ, he has a great balance with respect and learning. [He'll think], 'Hey, I'm getting better, whether it's [behind] Kyrie or another guy, it's their show right now and I'm learning how to play with him or under them until it's my turn. I think he'll be receptive to that and I think he'll be a perfect complement to those guys."
After arguably his best individual regular season in terms of scoring efficiency and defense, Irving went from difference-maker to a dud in the Celtics' second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, who needed just five games to end Boston’s season.
Irving had arguably his worst four-game stretch last season in four consecutive losses to Milwaukee.
In those final four games, Irving averaged 19 points while shooting 30.1 percent from the field and 18.1 percent (5-for-27) on 3-pointers, to go with 4.3 assists - all below his season averages.
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