By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Kyrie Irving talks, people tend to listen. And overreact, quite a bit.
That was the case when the Celtics point guard gave an ambiguous response to New York Times reporter Sopan Debb when asked about his future with Boston. Irving can opt out of his current deal next offseason, and from the sound of it, he hasn’t given much thought to his future with the Celtics.
When asked if he sees himself wearing Celtics’ green long-term, here’s how Irving responded.
“Well, I mean, I know that question is going to come up a lot over the next year, just based upon where my deal is. And, you know, that time will arise and when it does, I think I’ll have a better, clear, concise, answer for a lot of people that are going to ask. Yeah, I just have to take it as being present with the Boston Celtics,” said Irving. “You know, just going into this year with the mindset of trying to win a championship.”
The good takeaway from that reply is that Irving has his sights set on competing for a title with the Celtics next year. The bad takeaway is he isn’t talking about an extended future with the Celtics. And that has people going crazy in Boston.
It’s understandable, with the quote coming just a week after Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix reported that the Celtics are scared that Irving could bolt for the New York Knicks when he hits free agency next summer (as laughable as that is, Irving has been connected to the Knicks in the past). That came shortly after Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman said he wasn’t sure if Irving would be a member of the Celtics in the coming seasons.
But we can’t forget that we’re now in the NBA’s silly season, and things tend to get blown out of proportion this time of the year. Irving’s response about his future with the Celtics certainly isn’t reassuring to green teamers, but it’s also important to remember that this is Kyrie Irving. He is notoriously ambiguous and non-committal when talking with reporters, whether they’re asking about his reasons for wanting out of Cleveland or his flat earth theories. He likes to create an aura of mystery around himself, and this response is no different. While we love to hear a player say he wants to be a Celtic for life, that’s not Irving’s way. He lives in the now, and knows it’s not in his best interest to give up his only leverage with Boston come next summer.
This is all popping up as Danny Ainge and the Celtics weigh their options with Irving. Is he worth a max deal that will pay him $200 million over five seasons? Or is his lengthy injury history too much of a red flag to make such a commitment? Those are the questions the Celtics hope to answer next season, when Irving returns to Boston’s young and exciting roster. That, or he and Ainge can chat about it during their next trip to Chipotle.
While Irving’s comment will likely lead to more speculation and wild trade rumors (because when aren’t the Celtics involved in wild trade rumors) this summer, there’s no need for Boston fans to panic. Not yet. Chances are we won’t know what Irving’s future holds until next summer, and that’s the way he wants it. Until then, let’s worry about next season, when Irving is focused on raising a banner for the Celtics.