NBA rumors: Celtics 'cautiously optimistic' on re-signing Kyrie Irving

NBA rumors: Celtics 'cautiously optimistic' on re-signing Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving's future in Boston seemed like a non-story once he told season ticket holders at TD Garden in October that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics. Shortly after that, he filmed a Nike commercial where he played 1-on-1 against his father at the Garden and said he wants to be the last Celtic to wear No. 11.

A lot has changed since then, however. Rumors about Irving's commitment to Boston have surfaced in recent weeks, conveniently timed with the plethora of Anthony Davis trade rumors. Irving fueled the fire by not affirming his plans to re-sign in Boston during a media availability in New York last week and instead saying Boston remains at the "head of the race." 

While Celtics fans suddenly are a bit more nervous about Irving's plans than before, how does the team actually feel? Here's what ESPN's Zach Lowe reported Wednesday:

(Boston, for its part, remains cautiously optimistic about keeping Irving, though the events of the past week -- Irving's comments, New York opening up a second maximum salary slot -- have shaken them. But Boston is always confident. That is Ainge's default mindset. The league at large is much less confident, but it is hard to say who knows what, and with what level of reliability. The postseason could be really telling for so many of this summer's headliner free agents.)

Irving is able to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. It's no secret the Celtics are interested in trading for Davis but can't pull it off until at least June because of a league rule (explained here). Acquiring Davis would be a great way to convince Irving that Boston is the best place for him to win long-term. It also doesn't hurt that the C's can offer Irving more years and money in his new contract than any other team in free agency.

The Celtics could go in a number of different directions between now and the summer, but winning is the best way to show Irving, Davis and everyone else that Boston is the prime destination to compete for championships. A run to the NBA Finals would be an impressive show of what Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has built in Boston.

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Report: Anthony Davis doesn't see Boston as "a long term destination"

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Report: Anthony Davis doesn't see Boston as "a long term destination"

Anthony Davis has been all over the map when it comes to talking about his future plans.

After declaring that all of the other 29 teams in the NBA are on his "list" of destinations—despite the fact it is widely believed Davis is merely eyeing a rendezvous on the Lakers with LeBron James, a report suggests that despite the fanfare, the Celtics are simply not regarded as a destination by Davis.

According to Shams Charania of Stadium:

“There are a couple other teams right now undisclosed that he would also consider,” Charania said. “The Celtics, I’m told, are still not a long-term destination for him of preference in his mind. Where the Celtics stand has not changed despite what Anthony Davis said over the weekend. Sources told me the Celtics are not in it as far as the long-term play, but listen, it’s going to depend exactly on where the Pelicans want to trade him.”

Davis' approach is political as much as anything else. It makes sense that Davis does not want to turn off or anger the team the New Orleans Pelicans will trade him to, while the superstar Power Forward and Center still would have time remaining on his contract regardless of where he ends up.

From up-and-comer to seasoned vet: The transition of Celtics star Kyrie Irving

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From up-and-comer to seasoned vet: The transition of Celtics star Kyrie Irving

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving was among those looking on with admiration as Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade accepted framed All-Star jerseys on Sunday in what will likely be the last time either suits up for such a  game.

Irving also took joy in seeing Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton soaking in the first of what will likely be multiple All-Star appearances.

Having that awareness of his All-Star surroundings was a reminder of sorts as to the career crossroads that Irving finds himself at presently.

He will be 27 years old next month and while far from the end of his career like Nowitzki and Wade, Irving is no longer considered part of the up-and-coming youth movement of the NBA but instead is a proven, well-established veteran.

“It’s gone by so fast. The vets told me it was going to go by really fast,” Irving said. “I’m in my eighth year, it’s my sixth All-Star game. It’s gone by quick.”

Which makes the time spent during All-Star weekend all that more significant to him.

“The point I am in my career, just appreciating it a lot more,” Irving said. “Young guys are going to be the future of the league and here I am, watching D-Wade and Dirk getting retired from the All-Star game … I’ll be there one day.”

But that day won’t be for a while.

Until then, Irving will continue to seek out ways to get better and lead the Celtics into what will be a challenging stretch of play to close out the regular season.

Currently fourth in the East, Boston (37-21) opens the post All-Star break portion of the schedule with a road game at East-leading Milwaukee on Thursday.

It is a fitting opening game considering how difficult things are likely to be for Boston between now and the playoffs.

According to tankathon.com, the Celtics have the sixth-toughest remaining schedule in the NBA.

And for Boston to find success through what will be a formidable stretch to close out the season, Irving’s play and presence will be key.

He’s averaging 23.6 points per game along with 6.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

He is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 23 points and six assists while shooting better than 40 percent on 3’s.

Irving is also one of the more productive players in the league, a league that he recognizes is only going to get younger.

“The realization is, KD (Kevin Durant), Steph (Curry), they’re 30 and I’m right on their heels,” Irving said. “I’m turning 27 next month. And you got Joel (Embiid), and obviously Ben (Simmons), young guys, D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell), those guys are going to be the future of our league, consecutive all-star games, of all-star teams. And I’m going to be right there with them, but I’m going to be that guy like LeBron, you know that … he’s the captain but we all know he’s put in an unbelievable body of work and we all respect who he is. And those guys are trying to get to that point, just like I am trying to get to that point to fulfill a legacy for myself in this league.”

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