Celtics star Kyrie Irving had a message for fans concerned he may leave the team after the 2018-19 season.
"If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here," the point guard said to raucous applause at the TD Garden.
"He just randomly said it out of nowhere," Celtics fan Justin Le said in excitement. "I was like, 'What?'"
Through the offseason, rumors tied Irving to the New York Knicks and other teams. Those rumors were partly fueled by his professed desire to play with Jimmy Butler, a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We had all these rumors about him leaving and I love the idea that he was ready to go," Celtics fanatic Jason Antoine said. "It sounds like he’s committed to having a hall of fame career here."
Irving is signed through this season and holds a $21.3 million player option for next year. Butler, like Irving, can opt out after this season and become a free agent.
Irving went down in March, missing the entire postseason after undergoing knee surgery. He and Gordon Hayward, who missed the entire season after an injury in his first game in a Celtics uniform, have played in the preseason and will be ready for the season's Oct. 26 opener against the 76ers. Along with Al Horford, they are poised to help lead a squad that includes rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics acquired Irving last summer in a blockbuster trade, sending Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs used their 2018 pick to take Collin Sexton.