Kyrie Irving Rumors: Star Has Indicated to Celtics He's Likely Signing with Nets

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 18, 2019

Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Kyrie Irving has been in communication with top officials within the Boston Celtics organization since the end of the 2018-19 season, even if it's not what they want to hear. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Tuesday that Irving has been "forthright ... with private and public signals that he will leave the organization in free agency—likely for the Brooklyn Nets."

To make matters worse for Boston, Charania relayed that the Celtics are prepared to lose Al Horford in addition to Irving in free agency, which begins June 30 at 6 p.m. ET. 

Charania's report regarding Horford correlates with the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, who disclosed minutes earlier that the five-time All-Star is no longer in discussions with Boston on a new three-year contract but is instead expected to sign a four-year deal with another team in free agency. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski echoed Bulpett and added that "the gulf is too great for sides to believe they can close on a new deal now."

The Horford development is much more surprising than Irving, as the assumption has long been that Irving wouldn't be a Celtic in 2019-2020. 

Mark Murphy @Murf56

Had a conversation with Al Horford's dad, Tito, in Indiana during the first round of playoffs. Unsolicited, he kept saying, "Al loves it in Boston. Al loves it in Boston. Al loves it in Boston."

It's a tough blow for Boston. Horford's value to the Celtics extended beyond his on-court ability. As Stadium's Jeff Goodman pointed out, at 33 years old, Horford was a "perfect mentor" for Boston's young core.

Veteran presence will be even more crucial for the Celtics should Irving and Horford depart as expected. Entering last season, Boston ranked fourth-lowest among all teams in average years of NBA experience at 3.53 years.

While Horford's next destination is unknown, NBA TV's Jared Greenberg has a suggestion that may sting Celtics Nation a little extra:

Jared Greenberg @JaredSGreenberg

I’m not sure there is a better fit in the entire league next to LeBron and AD than Al Horford. Selfless Vet with deep playoff experience, pass-first big who willingly would play the 5 and has ability to step outside and knock down 3’s.

Meanwhile, Irving's link to Brooklyn has been well-documented. What's most interesting about Charania's report is it slightly contradicts one made by the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach.

"The strangest part of the Irving situation right now is that it appears he has essentially ghosted on the Celtics," Himmelsbach wrote Monday. "The people within the organization I have spoken with have made it clear that they have had little, if any, communication with Irving in recent weeks."

Irving's communication level seems irrelevant at this point. 

What matters most from the Celtics' standpoint is what they can control: using their three first-round picks in Thursday's NBA draft to refurbish a franchise that—by all indications—wasn't expecting to be in the position it will be this summer.

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Celtics could now pivot to being a cap space team, with reports that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will leave Boston. If Boston clears the decks of all free agents, they’ll have nearly $28M in cap space. That number could rise if they trade or stash a draft pick.

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

If Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, and Marcus Morris all move on, Boston is looking at around $19.6m in space with Rozier's cap hold on the books along with their 3 first-round picks.

Boston is coming off of an Eastern Conference Semifinals exit at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the season was seen largely as a disappointment because the team never jelled after coming within one win of the NBA Finals in 2017-18. 

In a little over a month, somehow, the roster may be even more disjointed.