Boston Celtics star point guard Kyrie Irving could become an unrestricted free-agent during the summer of 2019 if he declines his player option and will likely command a max contract if he enters the open market.
Irving is set to make $20.1 million in 2018-19 and has already said he won’t sign an extension with the Celtics this offseason.
There have been rumblings that Irving wants to join forces with Jimmy Butler in New York possibly. Like Irving, Butler can become a free-agent in 2019 and the forward recently declined an extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to ESPN’s Summer Panel, the New York Knicks are the slight favorite to get Irving at 46.9 percent, but the Celtics aren’t far behind at 43.8 percent. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz maintains that the Celtics and Irving have a mutual understanding of where their relationship is.
“My best intel is that the Celtics and Kyrie have a pretty good mutual understanding that he wasn’t going to get traded in the offseason and that there are long-term aspirations for both parties,” Arnovitz said. “Anything can happen over the course of an eight-month season, but I kind of like him staying.”
With both Irving and Gordon Hayward expected to be healthy, the Celtics are primed to contend for a championship and are favored to win the Eastern Conference next season.
Irving’s first year with the Celtics was cut short after the superstar guard underwent season-ending knee surgery in April. Before going down, Irving was averaging 24.4 points and 5.1 assists in 60 games while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has said multiple times this summer that Irving will be ready for the start of training camp in September.