Kyrie Irving Rumors: Knicks View Celtics PG as No. 1 Target in 2019 Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)    Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 24, 2018 in New York City. The Celtics defeated the Knicks 121-112. 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 Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving will reportedly be the New York Knicks' top free-agent target next summer should he hit the open market after the 2018-19 NBA season.

On Wednesday, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports told the Bulls Talk podcast that New York will go all-in on its Irving pursuit.

"I've spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice," Blakely said.

Multiple NBA executives told ESPN's Ian Begley in July they expect Irving to give the Knicks "consideration" in free agency.

The 26-year-old Duke product is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract. He's set to make $20.1 million, with a player option for $21.3 million in 2019-20.

Discussion about his future is amplified because he's remained noncommittal about staying with the Celtics. He sidestepped an inquiry from the New York Times' Sopan Deb about the topic in June:

"Well, I mean I know that question is going to come up a lot over the next year, just based upon where my deal is. And, you know, that time will arise, and when it does I think I'll have a better, clear, concise answer for a lot of people that are going to ask. Yeah, I just have to take it as being present with the Boston Celtics. You know, and just going into this year with the mindset of trying to win a championship."

Irving averaged 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds across 60 appearances during his debut year with the Celtics last season. His campaign came to a premature end in March because of a knee injury, however.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are slowly stockpiling building blocks, led by Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Knox. But they are going to need more star power to compete in the top-heavy NBA.

In July, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Irving and Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler, another potential free agent after next season, are working behind the scenes with a plan to "build an elite backcourt, whether that's in Boston or somewhere else in the East."

A starting lineup of Irving, Butler, Knox, Porzingis and Enes Kanter would make New York a legitimate threat heading into next year and beyond. It's going to take time before Knicks fans find out whether that's a realistic endgame, though.

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