2019 NBA Free Agents: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Irving, Durant

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2019

Kyrie Irving could return to the Celtics in 2019-20 or opt to take his free-agency option.
Kyrie Irving could return to the Celtics in 2019-20 or opt to take his free-agency option.Associated Press

Kyrie Irving has not been the answer to the Boston Celtics' needs in his two seasons playing for the 17-time NBA champions. If he had met those high expectations, the Celtics would not be watching the rest of the playoffs like the rest of us after falling in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Irving averaged 23.8 points and 6.9 assists per game this season in 67 regular-season games, and he averaged 24.4 and 5.1 last season before getting shut down. However, the team's chemistry under his leadership has been spotty at times.

Team president Danny Ainge indicated he wants to re-sign Irving (player option for next season), and he believes his chances of bringing him back are promising if the Celtics can acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, per Frank Isola of The Athletic.

However, that's hardly a given, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Irving has had discussions "with people about playing for the [Los Angeles] Lakers."

That said, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith figured there's "no way in hell" Irving is going to L.A. and is instead "heading to Madison Square Garden." He said Irving's "inner circle" is trying to get the Brooklyn Nets into the mix but that the Knicks are the likely destination.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could end up as teammates in free agency, per reports.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could end up as teammates in free agency, per reports.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Smith added that Kevin Durant would end up playing for the Knicks with Irving—giving it a 95 percent chance, as the two are close friends. Smith said his sources won't give the Irving-Durant partnership with the Knicks a 100 percent certainty because of the personalities of the two players.

Marc Stein of the New York Times said on the Stephen A. Smith Show that "[Durant and Irving] might be a package deal, but they're going to look at the Nets just as hard as the Knicks."

The Nets have work to do with their salary-cap situation, however, and would need to offer quite a bit for a team to take Allen Crabbe ($18.5 million for next season) off their hands.

   

Predictions

Irving's two seasons in Boston have not gone according to plan, but the C's would still re-sign him in a heartbeat. They will put together the best package to make the Davis trade happen, and Irving will re-sign.

Durant, meanwhile, will throw a curveball and sign with the Nets.

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