Kyrie Irving Rumors: Star Has 'Essentially Ghosted' Celtics Ahead of Free Agency

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2019

Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers Friday, March 29, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

All-Star guard Kyrie Irving reportedly may be distancing himself from the Boston Celtics ahead of free agency.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Irving has "essentially ghosted" the Celtics and has had "little, if any, communication" with the organization in recent weeks.

If Irving declines the player option in his contract for 2019-20 as expected, he will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason after spending the previous two campaigns in Boston.

While early indications at the start of the 2018-19 season suggested Irving was poised to re-sign with the Celtics, things have become far less clear in recent months.

In October, Kyrie said at an event for season ticket holders that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics: "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."

His tune changed a few months later, though, as he said, "Ask me July 1" when asked in February if he still planned to remain in Boston, per Jay King of The Athletic.

The 27-year-old veteran was named an All-Star for the sixth time in 2018-19, and he finished with averages of 23.8 points, 6.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc.

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Although the one-time NBA champion was highly productive, Boston took a step back last season and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. The Celtics reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season despite both Irving and Gordon Hayward missing the entire playoffs due to injury.

Aside from Boston, Irving has been linked to several teams, including the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. SNY.tv's Ian Begley reported last week that teams in pursuit of Irving believe he favors signing with the Nets currently.

Brooklyn made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, but if it signs Irving, it may not retain restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell. That would leave Kyrie to lead a talented yet star-lacking group highlighted by Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen.

In Boston, Irving would remain the top dog on a team that includes the likes of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford (if he opts in) and Hayward.

Boston, Brooklyn and New York are all viable options if Irving most desires to be the face of the franchise, but if winning a championship is at the top of his list, then perhaps reuniting with LeBron James in L.A. and joining the recently acquired Anthony Davis is a move Kyrie will consider.

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