Kyrie Irving did not play Monday night, but that did not stop the crowd in Brooklyn from chanting about his looming free agent status.
For what it’s worth Kyrie Irving has said he will re-sign with the Boston Celtics, and team president Danny Ainge has said they will keep him. But that won’t stop speculation about Irving’s status, as he will surely decline his player option for next season with an eye on a longer deal.
Something is clearly amiss in Boston right now, with signs of a divide between veteran and young players. Irving took the lead in calling the Celtics’ young players out recently, along with his open frustration with how the final play of last Saturday night’s loss to the Orlando Magic played out.
The Celtics dropped their third straight game Monday night, 109-102 to the Brooklyn Nets. Irving did not play due to a right quad contusion, and guard Marcus Smart also sat out with an illness to further thin who was available for coach Brad Stevens.
The seven-point setback for Celtics was ultimately pretty misleading, as the Nets held a 25-point lead just shy of two minutes into the fourth quarter. As forward Daniel Theis stepped to the free-throw line for Boston, the crowd at Barclays Center offered an unexpected chant.
“Kyrie’s leaving” might be Nets’ fans trying to create hope they’ll be the team Irving moves to if he does leave the Celtics. There have been rumors that Irving and Jimmy Butler want to team up somewhere, as they both get set to opt-out, and Brooklyn is still one of the places they could do so.
Of course, the New York Knicks are also set to be major players in 2019 free agency, and given the choice of New York boroughs, Irving would probably be inclined to choose Manhattan over Brooklyn. Whether that would be a wise career choice in pursuit of winning is a different conversation, as the Nets seem to be building something while the Knicks will inspire doubt until further notice.
Time will tell where Irving lands come summer. But Nets’ fans should be just fine with the construction and future of their team without or without him.