Rotten news, Knicks fans: Kyrie Irving told an assembly of Celtics season ticket holders that he plans to return to Boston in free agency in summer 2019. And if you’re clinging to the hope that he was just saying that to ingratiate himself with Celtics diehards, he went into greater detail Friday at practice, saying “it was just time” to announce his intentions to Celtics fans:
“I needed just some time to kind of be back in Boston and feel great about different things I wanted to explore in my career. But I think the important thing is just being happy, having an environment where I’m challenged on a physical level as well as mental, and I can get better as a basketball player and as a man, and grow here. I do have a dream of putting my number 11 in the rafters one day, if I’m so blessed to do that. I’ll work my tail off, obviously a lot of great players have come before me, but to grow my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I’m glad I can do, and plan on doing.”
Kyrie sounds pretty sure of this decision, but of course there’s still plenty of time for him to change his mind. Maybe he’ll get hurt again, and Terry Rozier will seize a larger share of the point guard minutes. Maybe touches for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will eat a little too much into his share of the offense. Maybe age-related decline from Al Horford and the addition of a post-injury Gordon Hayward will screw up the team’s chemistry. And, as Kyrie reminded the assembled media Friday, he and Danny Ainge haven’t actually talked dollars yet, and it would surprise exactly no one if Ainge went into this summer feeling confident in Boston’s guard depth and looking to keep the Celtics flexible and stocked with value contracts. He dumped Isaiah Thomas for Irving last summer, and Thomas meant a hell of a lot more to recent Celtics success then than Irving does now. A lot could happen.
And, anyway, Kyrie did recently change his mind about the shape of the planet. If the right YouTube video should find its way to his smartphone, who knows?