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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