Once considered a Knicks target in next year's free agency class, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving announced he plans to re-sign on a long-term deal Boston instead of exploring other options.
"I do have a dream of putting my No. 11 in the rafters one day if I'm so blessed to do that, work my tail off," Irving said Friday, according to NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg. "Obviously a lot of great players have come before me, but to throw my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I'm glad I could do."
Irving, who was expected to be one of the most sought-after players in next season's free agency class that could also feature Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, said repeatedly Thursday he plans to remain a Celtic, with whom he has spent one season after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He said he has yet to formally discuss contract stipulations with Celtics GM Danny Ainge, but added that will happen in time. For now, he said, he wants to focus on preparing for the season.
Irving is in the fourth year of a five-year, $94 million deal. He can opt out of his $21.3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent next season. Should he re-sign with Boston on a max deal -- five years, $188 million -- next summer, it would be $60 million more than if he were to announce a re-signing beforehand, according to RealGM's Keith Smith.
The 26-year-old Irving, who averaged 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 60 games with the Celtics last season, was once considered the Knicks' "first, second, third and fourth choice" in next year's free agency class.
But Irving, whom the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted No. 1 overall in 2011, requested a trade prior to last season and said, according to the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach, that the idea "about starting over was just a s---ty thought.
"I didn't want to move again," Irving added.
Irving and the Celtics are among the favorites in the Eastern Conference, especially given Gordon Hayward is healthy after a season-ending knee injury in Boston's opener last season and that Jayson Tatum led them to the conference finals after Irving missed the postseason with an injury.
As for the Knicks?
They can re-sign Kristaps Porzingis to a long-term max deal next offseason when he becomes a restricted free agent. They reportedly have a "very good shot" at convincing Durant to come to New York and have been linked to Butler, who has requested a trade out of Minnesota but can be a free agent next summer.
New York will likely have enough cap space for one max free agent next summer as of now.
But that player doesn't appear to be Irving.