Gerry Broome/Associated Press
Kyrie Irving dropped a bombshell on the basketball world Thursday when he announced he planned on re-signing with the Boston Celtics next summer, and he made sure his teammates weren’t caught off guard.
That’s because he had given Celtics players a heads-up when he invited them to his house Wednesday, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.
Boston center Al Horford said:
“It was a very nice surprise. Just his commitment to the organization, and a sense that we can put all the speculation behind us and focus on the season. That was very big of him to do something like that.
“I personally would never come up and try to talk to him about it. At the end of the day, it’s his decision and whatever he wants to do. But, yeah, we heard the speculation and everything. That was definitely out there, and you wonder what was going to happen. I think he understands what we’re building here and the potential that is here.”
Irving made his intentions public at TD Garden a day later:
Boston Celtics @celtics
“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.” – @KyrieIrving https://t.co/0wDLzuv5WL
For him, it was important to share the moment with the fans:
“Timing is everything, and I’m glad I could share it with the Boston fans, everybody there. I was just happy to get it done with for me. I just have every intention of signing back. Me and Danny [Ainge] and management have not talked about any numbers, so please do not ask me about it. That goes for anybody—we don’t want any tampering or anything like that. July 1, whatever that day is, we’ll talk about contracts and stuff like that. [But] I have every intention of signing back with Boston.”
When Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2017 offseason, the Celtics were not on his list of preferred destinations. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the New Jersey product sought to join either the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat or Minnesota Timberwolves.
Speculation about Irving’s future in Boston grew earlier this summer when he declined to sign an extension with just one year remaining on his contract. While some questioned if that meant he was looking to get out of town, Irving made it clear it “wouldn’t make any sense” from a financial standpoint to sign on the dotted line before next year, via NBA on ESPN:
As Boston.com’s Mark Dunphy noted in June, Irving would be leaving approximately $87 million on the table if he signed the extension this year.
Irving’s announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that he recently told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols the future is “very, very bright in Boston”:
“Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?” he added. “…Even if I ever tried to think about the thought of going elsewhere, it’d be like, ‘What are you thinking?’ We’re pretty f’ing good here…I’m looking forward to that.”
Boston made it within one game of the NBA Finals a season ago despite having to play without both Irving (knee) and All-Star Gordon Hayward (leg) because of injuries. With LeBron James moving to the Western Conference, the Celtics enter the 2018-19 season as the favorites to come out of the East.
With a healthy squad, Irving is excited for what’s to come in Boston.