Report: Kyrie Irving Is Knicks’ Top Target In 2019 Free Agency

Kyrie Irving
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics star point guard Kyrie Irving can become an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2019 if he declines his 2019-20 player option and the New York Knicks plan to go all out in their attempts to bring Irving to The Big Apple should he enter the open market.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston joined the Bulls Talk Podcast and said Irving is the Knicks’ No. 1 target in 2019.

“I can tell you right now, the New York Knicks, he is their No. 1 target,” Blakely said. “I’ve spoken with people within that organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that, if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free agent market this summer, Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice.”

There have been rumblings that Kyrie Irving wants to join forces with his pal Jimmy Butler in New York possibly. Like Irving, Butler can become a free agent next summer and the All-Star forward declined an extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves in July.

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. He will be ready for the start of training camp.

The Knicks would have to do a lot of roster maneuvering to create two max-salary slots for Irving and Butler. Joakim Noah has two years and $38 million left on his deal, but the team is reportedly going to stretch the veteran center soon. Guard Courtney Lee has two years and $25 million left on his contract and swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. has three years and $55 million owed to him.

The Celtics are reportedly optimistic that Kyrie Irving will re-sign with them, but this is the same guy who requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers after going to three-straight NBA Finals. Irving’s free agency will be a frequent talking point throughout this season, but Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says he isn’t going to even mention it to Irving.

“I’m not going to talk to him about it at all,” Stevens told Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. “One of the things I want to do is give everything I can to all these guys while they’re here. Hopefully, the people that are here recognize that it’s a really good environment with a high upside for a long time. It’s some place that will be committed to them, committed to their overall game and enhancement and off the court and everything else. There’s no real discussion to be had. It’s more, ‘We can’t wait to get to work.’ ”