The star guard was expected to be one of the most sought-after players in free agency next summer when his five-year, $94 million contract comes off the books, but Irving isn’t planning on going anywhere.
At an event for Celtics season-ticket holders at TD Garden on Thursday, the 26-year-old verbally committed to re-signing with the franchise as he told the fans in attendance: “I’ve shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organisation as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”
What Irving shared with the crowd is the same message he’s given the Celtics’ front office over the past few months, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The public declaration on Thursday was the most definitive Irving has been about his future, but he’s implied his intentions in interviews over the past month leading into the season.
“Who wouldn’t be a part of this?” Irving said told ESPN in a story published two weeks ago. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Al Horford and Gordon Hayward?
“People keep saying, ‘Why won’t he commit to Boston?’ Well, there are financial implications involved.”
Those financial implications refer to the discrepancy in money Irving can earn if he waits until free agency to re-sign, rather than inking an extension now. The difference could be nearly $80 million in Irving’s favour if ends up signing a max contract next summer.
Still, it’s somewhat surprising to hear Irving so forthcoming because nothing is set in stone until he officially re-signs. In terms of leverage, Irving gains nothing by making his intentions so clear this early.
However, by getting out ahead of all the rumours of where he could end up, the move may strengthen the Celtics’ chemistry even more heading into the season. With the questions over Irving’s future likely to die down, Boston will have one less distraction to deal with as they vie for a championship.
Irving’s proclamation may also allow the rest of the Celtics players to feel comfortable as they find their roles in a stacked roster. Young guys like Tatum, Brown and Terry Rozier should no longer feel as if they’re stepping on Irving’s toes by having an aggressive mindset, for fear of chasing him away.
With one of their primary concerns for the future already solved, Boston couldn’t be in a better position going forward.
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