Boston Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving made headlines last week when he backpedaled on his commitment to sign a long-term contract with the team when he becomes a free agent this summer.
Four months after he told fans during an event at TD Garden, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” Irving told reporters recently, “I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career. … I don’t owe anybody (expletive).”
His comments, understandably, caused some panic among many members of Celtics nation, and the chatter about him potentially joining the New York Knicks, especially following the franchise’s trade of Kristaps Porzingis to clear up cap space, picked up.
But Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday that he’s confident Irving will re-up with the team this summer.
“The way I viewed the situation is that I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that there was a marriage,” Ainge said Friday on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub. “And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1st. I think that engagement is still on, as far as I know.
“In my individual conversations with Kyrie, we’re still engaged, but we really can’t make those vows, sign that contract, until July 1st,” Ainge said, noting that he and Irving had some “good conversations” after last week’s comments.
Irving, who was traded from Cleveland in the summer of 2017, last month expressed his frustration with the Celtics’ slow start, calling out his young teammates for not knowing “what it takes to be a championship level team.”
In the following days, he said he “did a poor job of setting an example” and revealed that he called former teammate LeBron James to apologize for being a young player who didn’t quite understand what James was experiencing as a veteran leader.
The Celtics currently sit in fourth place in the East at 35-20, and though they’re further back in the standings than many expected at the start of the year, they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and are just one game behind Indiana.
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