BOSTON (CBS) — In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Kyrie Irving is not opting in to the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics.
Shams Charania of The Athetlic “broke” the news Wednesday that Irving will indeed become a free agent in the coming days.
This was to be expected. Opting in would have led to a $21.3 million salary for Irving, but he’s expected to get a whole lot more than that as an unrestricted free agent. The Celtics can offer Irving a bigger deal than anyone else this offseason, but the expectation is he’ll be signing elsewhere, despite his pre-season proclamation that he would sign long-term in Boston this summer. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are the favorite to land the New Jersey native.
Irving had a stellar season for the Celtics on the floor, leading the team with 23.8 points per game while adding a career-high 6.9 assists and five rebounds per contest, earning him a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. But it was a tumultuous season off the court, with Irving calling out his teammates as the Celtics struggled through the regular season. By midseason, his vow to re-sign long-term was gone and the speculation that he would leave Boston went wild. It doesn’t help that Boston’s season ended with four straight uninspiring losses to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, with Irving shooting just 30 percent (25-for-83) in those games.
Now, Irving will be an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with whichever team he wants. It’s still possible that he takes the max offer from Boston, but that seems more and more unlikely by the day.