Ever since last October when Kyrie Irving was asked if he planned on resigning with the Celtics this summer it has been a roller coaster for the Celtics organization. At the time Irving replied with “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
Fast-forward four months, Irving was asked if he still planned on signing with Boston this summer and he replied: “Ask [him] July 1.”
Since then, four teams have been mentioned to possibly landing the multi-time All-Star this summer. The Nets were in the running because Kyrie is from West Orange, New Jersey and he was able to watch the New Jersey Nets team featuring Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson growing up. He also could sign with the Knicks, Heavy’s Brandon Robinson reported back in February that he received a phone call from a league source “not to sleep on the notion that Irving may actually have a loyalty to another big market,” referring to New York.
If Irving signs with the Knicks this off-season, where would that leave Dennis Smith Jr., who the Knicks acquired at the 2019 trade deadline and he is entering his third season in the NBA?
Enter former Knicks guard Nate Robinson, who made a living coming off the bench during his ten-year career in the NBA.
“If the Knicks were to sign Kyrie Irving, Dennis Smith Jr. could still develop in a star coming off the bench. That is what I have done my entire career and other such as Jamal Crawford, and Lou Williams have done the same. My father always taught me it is not about how you start it’s about how you finish. It doesn’t matter who starts the game! When your number is called during those minutes you highlight your game and you show the world what you can do. Coming off the bench is not a bad task when you come off the bench you must get buckets. You can come in off the bench and have a pass first mindset you must be aggressive,“ said Robinson.
He would continue:
“Dennis Smith Jr. must be more aggressive and needs to work on his outside shot. If he can get that down, then he will be fine because he already is athletic enough to go by people and go dunk on them. You already have that part to your game and now it is time to add an outside shot to your game, so people fear you like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard. If that happens it is easier the get to the basket.“
Smith finished his sophomore campaign averaging 13.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists according to Basketball-Reference.com.
There is also a possibility that the Los Angeles Lakers could sign Irving since he has now repaired his relationship with LeBron James. The two were spotted together at Hyde in LA last Saturday per ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, “Kyrie Irving was seen with LeBron at Hyde in LA on Saturday.“
Kyrie Irving was seen with LeBron at Hyde in LA on Saturday. https://t.co/5HdVUECJOj
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) May 24, 2019
Back in January of this year, Irving shared with the media he had reached out to James to apologize for his behavior in the past.
“I had to call ‘Bron, and tell him I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips,” Irving said following a 117-108 victory against the Toronto Raptors at home.
“I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.”
Kyrie speaks on calling LeBron and apologizing after understanding what it takes to lead a team.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 17, 2019
Kyrie on calling LeBron: “The responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. … Only few are meant for it, or chosen for it, and I feel like the best person to call was him.”
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) January 17, 2019
“I did a poor job of setting an example for these young guys what it’s like to get something out of your teammates,” he said. “Going forward, I want to test these young guys, but I can’t do it publicly. That was a learning experience for me, realizing the magnitude of my voice and what I mean to these guys,” said Irving (quote transcribed by NBA.com).
There is the possibility that he would return to the Celtics as well, but it is a long shot. We will have to see what decision Irving makes when free agency begins on June 30th at 6 PM EST.