For the second time in the past three offseasons, Kyrie Irving is on the move.
And this time, the former Cleveland Cavaliers star is heading home.
Taking to Instagram on Monday, Irving confirmed he'll be signing a free agent contract with the Brooklyn Nets when the NBA's new league year begins on July 6. A native of West Orange, New Jersey, the 6-time All-Star made it clear that a return to the Tri-State area played a prominent role in his free agent decision, which he announced in a video set to Jay Z's "Public Service Announcement."
"It was fourth grade. I had just gotten done watching the Nets in the Finals when I knew that this was a dream I wanted to fulfill," Irving says. "I had to put in my time, I had to put in my hours, I had to relentlessly work on the craft. To do it with a passion and love that no one could take away from us."
The No. 1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland, where he made four All-Star teams and earned 2012 Rookie of the Year honors. Starring alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love, he played a key role in three runs to the NBA Finals, hitting the game-winning shot in the Cavs' championship-clinching Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
Irving's run in Cleveland, however, came to a tumultuous end when he demanded a trade from the Cavs in the offseason of 2017. Cleveland ultimately opted to deal Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brookyln Nets' 2018 first-round pick, which the Cavs ultimately used to select Collin Sexton.
While Irving added two more All-Star appearances to his resume and led the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2018, his final season in Boston possessed as much drama as it did disappointment. As rumors swirled surrounding Irving's impending free agency, the Celtics, who entered the season as an NBA Finals contender, turned in an underwhelming 49-33 regular season record before being beat by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Nevertheless, Irving's arrival in Brooklyn should help reinvigorate a Nets franchise that also received a free agent commitment from former MVP Kevin Durant on Sunday. With Durant expected to miss the entirety of next season recovering from a torn Achilles, Irving will be featured as the primary scorer and playmaker on his hometown team.
"Home is where my family is. Home is where I want my legacy to continue," Irving said. "I'm happy to be in Brooklyn."