NBA free agency

Danny Ainge responds to Kyrie Irving's request for '15-year veteran'

Danny Ainge responds to Kyrie Irving's request for '15-year veteran'

Kyrie Irving already has clarified his apparent suggestion that the Boston Celtics sign a 14- or 15-year veteran. But what does Irving's boss think of his request?

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked Thursday morning what he thought of those remarks, which Irving made Sunday after Boston's road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

"I talk to Kyrie all the time," Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich" during his weekly interview. "Kyrie can tell me whatever he wants to tell me anytime, privately or publicly, I guess. But I don't think he's trying to send any message. He can walk right up to my office and send me any message he wants."

Ainge admitted he hasn't had private discussions with Irving about adding a 15-year veteran, however.

"I think that at that moment, he was probably feeling that we needed -- I'm not even sure what he meant by that," Ainge said. "I haven't even talked to him about that comment. I don't know if he meant a 15-year player or a 15-year guy in the locker room, or what it was."

Irving downplayed his initial remarks after Wednesday's win over the Chicago Bulls, insisting he wasn't talking about any specific player. But if the 8-6 Celtics hit a few more rough patches over the next few weeks, perhaps Irving and Ainge will sit down and hash this out.

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These two teams have 'edge' to sign Kevin Durant in free agency, per report

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USA TODAY Sports

These two teams have 'edge' to sign Kevin Durant in free agency, per report

It took just 14 games for the lid to crack on the Kevin Durant free agency rumors.

That's thanks in part to Draymond Green, whose confrontation of Durant on the Golden State Warriors' sideline Monday night led some to conclude this may be Durant's final season in the Bay Area.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith apparently is one of those people. On his radio show Wednesday, Smith reported that while the Warriors are convinced the All-Star forward isn't going anywhere, he's "hearing differently:" that two teams are the front-runners to sign Durant next summer.

"I'm hearing the (New York) Knicks and the (Los Angeles) Lakers, with the Lakers having the edge. That's what I'm hearing," Smith said, via ESPN.com. "Two weeks ago, I heard the Knicks had the edge. Now, I hear the Lakers have the edge.

"Let me tell you something: It appears to be one of those two teams which is Kevin Durant's next destination. But Golden State is telling me: 'There's no way in hell we believe he's leaving. We believe Kevin Durant's gonna stay.' "

Durant can either pick up the $31.5 million option on his contract to remain with the Warriors next season or try his luck in free agency. It's obviously too early to predict what he'll do, but Smith is pretty plugged into NBA circles, so it's significant he believes Durant won't be a Warrior next season.

Los Angeles and New York present two vastly different scenarios for Durant, though; he'd share a massive spotlight with LeBron James on the Lakers but would be the unquestioned face of the Knicks' franchise if he chose the Big Apple. Then again, if you believe Glen "Big Baby" Davis, KD will spurn both those clubs and sign with the Boston Celtics instead.

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Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

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