Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are in similar situations. Both are on contracts signed before the salary cap skyrocketed, leaving their salaries low enough to make extensions untenable. So, Irving and Walker are headed toward 2019 unrestricted free agency – leaving their teams faced with uncertainty.
But the point guards have taken remarkably different tones when speaking about their futures.
Walker: “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time.”
Irving: “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.”
Maybe Irving is just as intent as Walker to stay with his current team long-term, but doesn’t communicate it publicly. Part of Irving’s brand is mystery. How much time have we spent trying to determine whether he actually thinks Earth is flat?
Regardless of Irving’s actual mindset, while Walker has been overt and consistent in his loyalty to Charlotte, we’re left reading signals with Irving and Boston.
Three agents told the Herald they fully expect Irving to opt out and leave next summer, but sources connected to the player reiterated in the last two days that, while there are miles to go between now and the end of the coming season, the All-Star guard is quite pleased with his Celtic surroundings and has been talking about the future here beyond 2018-19.
Who are these agents, and are they positioned to know something? We already know there’s speculation about Irving leaving. Are these agents just echoing it? Without more information, I don’t put much stock into their outlooks.
I’m far more interested in Irving talking about playing for the Celtics beyond 2019. That seems to be the strongest indicator of anything we’ve heard so far.
Boston reportedly believes Irving is happy there. Perhaps, these conversations are why the team already feels that way. If the Celtics had other reasons, they should be even more confident now.
But it’s also possible Irving is taking an approach similar to Masai Ujiri’s with DeMar DeRozan – planning for a future with the status quo until it changes. Irving might just be focused on Boston until he isn’t, giving his total devotion to the team he’s on. That could change in a moment next summer.
So, while this report is revelatory, it means only so much. There just won’t be a firm resolution until next summer (which must be nerve-wracking for the Celtics). In the meantime, we (and surely they) will continue to scour the tea leaves.