AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Kyrie Irving reportedly told Cavaliers teammates of desire to join Knicks. Should Celtics worry about his 2019 free agency?


After requesting a trade from the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving reportedly “very badly” wanted to join the Knicks. Instead, Cleveland sent him to the Celtics, a team not on his initially reported list (though maybe actually an Irving-approved destination).

Anyway, Irving is with Boston now and seems happy. But he’ll also become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Will he re-sign with the Celtics?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

I think they’re scared and should be scared to some degree of Kyrie Irving walking in 2019. I know he had a great year, but you know there are people in Cleveland that will tell you that the Knicks should be considered a real threat for Kyrie Irving. Because Kyrie had talked about it, about playing with the Knicks with some players in that Cleveland locker room from what I was told.

You know things can change. Obviously, you go to Boston. You become the face of the franchise. You’re on a winning team. Maybe the mindset has changed significantly.

I tend to believe the mindset has changed. Irving wanted to leave LeBron James and Cleveland. I don’t think he has the same desire to leave Boston. The Celtics would present a strong pitch, as they’re clearly a team on the rise. They went so far without Irving in these playoffs. Imagine what they’ll do with him next season.

However, it’s entirely possible Irving – who grew up in New Jersey –  views the Knicks favorably in 2019. They project to have major cap space that summer. Just because Irving isn’t itching to leave the Celtics now doesn’t mean they’ll be his top choice when he can select among all teams.

Irving would take a huge loss with a contract extension, so there’s no realistic way to resolve this until 2019 free agency. Boston must either wait until then and hope to re-sign him or preemptively trade him.

In the meantime, the Celtics must determine what to do with their other point guardsTerry Rozier (extension-eligible this offseason) and Marcus Smart (restricted free agent this offseason). They’re good players in their own rights, but also potentially hedges against Irving leaving.

Rumor: Rockets ‘not a realistic option’ for LeBron James

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

LeBron James could leave the Cavaliers this summer, and the Rockets have been frequently mentioned as a possibility.

They’re the NBA’s second-best team, and LeBron has spoken of a desire to play on teams that can compete with the NBA’s elite. Houston can already hang with the Warriors. LeBron could put the Rockets over the top.

Houston also has (and probably will keep) Chris Paul, LeBron’s friend. That’s important to LeBron.

So, could LeBron really join the Rockets?

Chris Haynes of ESPN on the TK Show:

Houston has been linked a lot. I’ve been told that that’s not a realistic option.

It’s unclear who’s kiboshing LeBron to the Rockets.

It could be LeBron. James Harden and Paul need the ball a lot, and LeBron might not see the fit as ideal.

It could be the Rockets. They’re already very good and could likewise see LeBron as too large a disruption to their system.

It could be the Cavaliers. The ideal way to get LeBron to Houston would be an opt-in-and-trade, a la Paul last year, and Cleveland might not want to participate.

So, where does that leave LeBron? His list was rumored to be comprised of only the Cavs, Lakers, Rockets and 76ers. The Lakers are reportedly a longshot. The 76ers are in disarray. Maybe we can cross off the Rockets.

At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if LeBron stays in Cleveland.

Donald Trump: Neither Warriors nor Cavaliers will be invited to White House

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

LeBron James said neither the Cavaliers nor Warriors would visit President Donald Trump’s White House if they won the championship. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant – whose opinions matter more here with Golden State up 3-0 in the NBA Finals – concurred.

Like last year, Trump is taking the decision out of their hands.

Trump, via Fred Imbert of CNBC:

“I didn’t invite LeBron James and I didn’t invite Steph Curry. We’re not going to invite either team, but we have other teams that are coming,” Trump said before leaving for the G-7 summit in Canada.

Durant put it well: “What else you expect Trump to do? Somebody says they don’t want to go to the White House, he disinvites him so the photo op won’t look bad. We get it at this point.”

It’s that, but it’s not just that. Feuding with black millionaire athletes plays well with Trump’s base.

Knicks hire hire Keith Smart, Jud Buechler, Pat Sullivan and Royal Ivey as assistant coaches

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NEW YORK (AP) The New York Knicks have hired former NBA coach Keith Smart and three others as assistants on David Fizdale’s coaching staff.

Jud Buechler, Pat Sullivan and Royal Ivey were also added Thursday to join Fizdale, who was hired last month to replace Jeff Hornacek.

Smart coached Cleveland, Golden State and Sacramento and was most recently an assistant to Fizdale, and later J.B. Bickerstaff, in Memphis. He also was an assistant along with Fizdale in Miami, working under Erik Spoelstra.

Sullivan and Ivey have both been NBA assistants. Buechler spent the past two seasons as the Lakers’ player development coach.

The Knicks are preparing for their first draft under Fizdale and pick ninth. They worked out Villanova’s Mikal Bridges on Thursday and will bring in Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. on Friday.

DeAndre Ayton says he won’t work out for teams other than Suns: ‘I know I’m going number one’

AP Photo/Matt York

The Suns are rumored to be set on drafting DeAndre Ayton No. 1.

He apparently buys it.

Ayton worked out with Phoenix on Wednesday, and that will apparently be his last workout.

Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports 98.7:

He said he’ll work out for “no one else.”

“I know I’m going number one,” he added.

It wasn’t because the Suns told him he’ll be drafted first. General manager Ryan McDonough said the team will continue working out potential No. 1 picks through Sunday.

“Nobody told me (I’ll go first),” Ayton said. “That’s just me. I think I deserve that. I’ve worked hard.

There’s plenty to like about the Arizona center. I doubt he slips past No. 2, even if this was his only workout. He’s the type of talent teams will covet, even without a workout.

I wonder whether the Kings holding the No. 2 pick influences Ayton’s plan. They’re not far removed from top prospects avoiding them, and reputations are hard to shake.

If Ayton senses Phoenix might not draft him, he can always work out elsewhere. This bravado is non-binding.

But if the Suns fulfil his proclamation, Sacramento faces a choice. At one point, word was the Kings would pick Ayton or Luka Doncic, whomever Phoenix didn’t. There has since been talk Sacramento could pass on Doncic, maybe for Marvin Bagley or Jaren Jackson Jr.