Boston guard Kyrie Irving will be one of the most sought-after players in free agency next summer.
But at the Celtics’ media day Monday, Irving said all the right things.
He told NBA TV’s Kristen Ledlow, “I believe Boston is the place for me.”
And speaking to Celtics.com, Irving said, “Obviously it’s everybody else’s job to look forward to my future before I can, so I just really thought it was important to make sure it’s known that this franchise is really built for the next few years of being at the top-tier of teams in the league. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? What more could you ask for from an organization to really elevate your game?
“When you want to be on the same lineage of greatness as the guys that have come before you, there are times where I have thought about having No. 11 in the rafters, hopefully, one day. That’s a dream. It wasn’t so much like that coming out, but it’s the truth. I feel that way about my teammates, I feel that way about the organization and I’m looking forward to the challenge this year.”
Obviously, there’s wiggle room there. Irving didn’t say he will re-sign with Boston next summer. But it’s clear he likes where the Celtics are now and how they’re positioned for a future that includes young stars-in the-making Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum.
Irving missed the final 15 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs, including the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland, his former team. With the return of Gordon Hayward, who missed 81 games with an ankle and leg injury, the Celtics are favored to win the East and play Golden State in the NBA Finals.
The topic of Irving’s future will be discussed all season. The New York Knicks, who will have cap space to sign a star, will be mentioned as a potential landing spot.
But that’s out of Irving’s control. To start the season, he said the right things.