All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is "preparing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets" when contracts can officially be completed in free agency on July 6, the Boston Herald reported Thursday.
The Herald report cited separate sources pointing to an Irving-Nets union but said the Boston Celtics have not been informed of Irving's plans and remain optimistic he could remain with the team.
The top pick in the 2011 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving is a six-time All-Star viewed as one of the best players available in a loaded free agent class this summer.
Prior to the just-completed season, Irving grabbed the microphone at TD Garden and told a packed house of season-ticket holders he planned to commit to the Celtics long-term.
"I needed just some time to kind of be back in Boston and feel great about different things I wanted to explore in my career," Irving said at the time.
He said he dreamt of his No. 11 hanging from the rafters one day, joining the retired numbers of legendary Celtics.
"Obviously, a lot of great players have come before me, but to grow my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I'm glad I can do, and I plan on," said Irving, who added he confirmed the Celtics want him back.
"Honestly, it just was like, 'Man, I do not want to move again.' I do not want to uproot my family and just be dealing with anything new again. No disrespect to other organizations, but here is perfect for me."
Much has changed since the October 2018 comments. And change seems to be the one constant that travels with Irving, 27.
While a union with Anthony Davis in Boston rumored to be in the works since 2018 still could have life, Irving reportedly became disliked in the locker room, openly critiquing younger players and not denying friction existed on occasion with coach Brad Stevens.
The Nets have plenty of money to unload in a bid to add Irving to a roster that made the playoffs and has one All-Star, guard D'Angelo Russell.
Acquired prior to the 2017-18 season from the Cavaliers, Irving also has been linked to being part of other superstar tandems in Brooklyn. In one such scenario, Irving could team with Kevin Durant. The Golden State Warriors star can become a free agent on June 30 by opting out of the final year of his deal.
When Irving arrived in Boston, he said he "craved" an "intellectual mind" in a coach like Stevens. Irving had been a championship-winning sidekick to LeBron James with the Cavaliers.
Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are reportedly engaged with the New Orleans Pelicans in talks regarding Davis.
It's not out of the realm of possibility the Nets could swing a deal for Davis if a third team is involved, especially if Brooklyn would part with Russell, a restricted free agent.
Of course, Irving himself isn't officially a free agent until he declines a player option in his contract. However, that is considered a formality at this stage.
Celtics team president Danny Ainge has tiptoed around the topic of bringing back Irving, but there are no other indications of where the trade-happy executive might go with his roster this summer. NBC Sports Boston reported Ainge is ready and willing to part with all three of his first-round draft picks (Nos. 14, 20 and 22) to land Davis, even as agent Rich Paul warned the Celtics that Davis wouldn't sign there long-term.
--Field Level Media