Teams thought to have interest in signing guard Kyrie Irving this offseason are reportedly "more wary" about doing so because of the way things played out for Irving and the Boston Celtics this season.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, some teams are "concerned about putting too many eggs in [Irving's] basket" following his struggles in Boston's second-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bulpett added that two teams are only willing to sign Irving if they can sign another superstar first to pair him with. While the players weren't named, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard seem like the top candidates.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said last week he was told there is a "95 percent chance" that both Irving and Durant sign with the New York Knicks:
Irving has yet to provide any indication on whether he would be willing to re-sign with Boston, but Bulpett reported the Celtics are hopeful they can keep him.
It initially seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would re-sign. In October at an event for Celtics season ticket holders, Irving said: "I've shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."
By February, he had backed off his initial statement, saying, "Ask me July 1," when asked if he planned to re-sign, per Jay King of The Athletic.
While the 27-year-old put up strong numbers this season, averaging 23.8 points, 6.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, it seemed as though he struggled to mesh with younger players like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
CJ McCollum and the Blazers Snapped Postseason Losing Streak for "Jennifer"
Jordan, Irving & Paul Invest in Plant-Based Food as Vegetarianism Sweeps NBA
Boogie, Luka and the Rest of the NBA Got Some Wild Techs This Season
Jarrett Allen Is One of the NBA’s Hottest Rim Protectors
Dwyane Wade's Jersey Swaps Created Epic Moments This NBA Season
OKC’s Russell Westbrook Makes NBA History While Honoring Nipsey Hussle
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker Makes History with Scoring Tear
29 Years Ago Today, Michael Jordan Dropped Career-High 69 Points
Chris Bosh Is Getting His No. 1 Jersey Raised to the Rafters in Miami
Steph Curry Returns to Houston for the First Time Since His Moon Landing Troll
Lou Williams Is Coming for a Repeat of Sixth Man of the Year
Step Aside Lakers, Pat Beverley Has the Clippers Stealing the LA Shine
LeBron Passes Jordan on All-Time Scoring List, Keeps Shredding NBA Record Books
Trae Young's Hot Streak Is Heating Up the ROY Race with Luka Doncic
LeBron James and 2 Chainz Form a Superteam to Release a New Album
Miami Heat Legend Dwyane Wade's #OneLastDance Dominated February
Warriors Fans Go Wild After Unforgettable Moments and Gifts from Steph Curry
Eight Years Ago, the Nuggets Traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks
Two Years Ago, the Kings Shipped Superstar DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans
The NBA All-Star Game Will Be Competitive Again If the League Raises the Stakes
In January, Irving questioned whether the team's young players knew how to play championship-caliber basketball, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports:
"The young guys don't know what it takes to be a championship-level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we're trying to get to the Finals?
"There were no expectations last year. Everyone played free and easy. Everyone surpassed whatever they expected for themselves. This year? We all have high expectations. The players, the coaches, everyone. And that's good, but we aren't doing it yet."
This month, ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan reported that Irving's teammates were "treading lightly" early in the season because of Irving's "mood swings."
During Boston's second-round playoff loss to Milwaukee, Irving shot just 35.2 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from three while taking 20.8 shots per game. The Celtics dropped four straight after winning Game 1 of that series, and they finished the 2018-19 season worse than they did the previous campaign.
With both Irving and Gordon Hayward out for the playoffs with injuries, the Celtics made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Rozier, Tatum and Brown primarily led the way.
If the Celtics re-sign Irving, it's possible they could move on from Rozier, a restricted free agent. If Irving signs elsewhere, however, Boston may move forward with a youth movement.