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Kyrie Irving on commitment to re-sign with Celtics: ‘Ask me July 1'

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics tries to get past Frank Ntilikina #11 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 24,2018 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Before the season, Kyrie Irving said he planned to re-sign with the Celtics next summer. He even made a commercial touting his legacy in Boston.

Since, the Celtics have underwhelmed their way to a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Irving has repeatedly criticized younger teammates. Rumors have emerged about Irving leaving Boston.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

That is not the denial many expected.

It was strange of Irving to publicly declare his intent to re-sign before the season. He didn’t have to do that. But he backed himself into this corner. Now, he must handle the awkwardness.

So must the Celtics. If Irving leaves, trading for Anthony Davis would be far riskier. The odds of Davis leaving in 2020 free agency would be much higher. Based on that, Boston could offer the Pelicans less for Davis.

Which New Orleans obviously knows. If they deem the Celtics are worried about keeping Irving and Davis, the Pelicans might not wait for a Boston offer next summer. New Orleans could trade Davis to the Lakers or elsewhere before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Heck, the Celtics might even consider trading Irving – maybe even for Davis – before then. The only thing preventing Boston from trading for Davis now is having both him and Irving on the roster as designated rookie scale players acquired via trade. The Pelican probably wouldn’t want Irving a half season before he hits unrestricted free agency, but he’d have value elsewhere in a multi-team deal.

Where will Irving sign next summer? I believe the Celtics are the leader. He didn’t pledge to re-sign on a whim. Boston clearly appeals to him.

But that he even acknowledges it’s a race is telling.

The early rumors centered on Irving reconnecting with LeBron James on the Lakers. But the Knicks trading Kristaps Porzingis to clear enough cap room to give max contracts to Irving and Kevin Durant makes New York a strong threat. Remember, in the period Irving returning to the Celtics seemed safe, he talked about his connection to the Knicks. Back when he played with the Cavaliers, he also told teammates of his desire to play for New York.