Kyrie and the Nets have reached a $353m ‘impasse’... and three NBA powerhouses are circling
Posted on June 21, 2022
The Nets’ negotiations with Kyrie Irving were always going to be challenging, and now they’ve reportedly reached an ‘impasse’.
Irving can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of this month, and conversations with Brooklyn over an extension have gone stagnant. It could lead the All-Star point guard to consider other teams, according to The Athletic.
Parting ways would be counter-productive for both parties, with the Nets unable to replace Irving should he leave in free agency and Brooklyn being the only place he can get a full five-year, $245.6 million ($A353m) max extension.
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“It has always been about being comfortable loving where I’m at, and I love it here,” Irving said after the Nets got swept by Boston, adding, “there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
At this point, he’s either changed his mind or is trying to bluff Nets general manager Sean Marks into believing he might.
Neither Marks nor Irving’s agent Shetellia Riley Irving had any comment.
“He has some decisions to make on his own,” Marks said last month.
“We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available.”
And that’s the crux of the matter.
Irving logged only 29 appearances during the regular season, largely due to his refusal to adhere to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. And since arriving in 2019 with Kevin Durant, injuries, personal leaves and vaccine refusals have seen him miss 123 out of 226 regular-season games.
That has both raised questions about how much Brooklyn can count on him, and lowered his trade value around the NBA. Irving and the Nets have “serious work to do” to be able to hammer out an agreement, and if they don’t, The Athletic posits that the Knicks, Lakers and Clippers could be suitors.
Irving has until June 29 to pick up or decline his $36.9 million player option for next season. Watching him leave as a free agent would be the nuclear option and catastrophic for the Nets, who are over the cap and would have no way of replacing him.
Irving’s unavailability contributed to James Harden’s trade demand, and ironically, Harden’s replacement Ben Simmons ended up not playing this year.
With all the teams that have cap space and a reasonable ability to sign Irving as an unrestricted free agent in various stages of a rebuild, that makes a sign-and-trade the most likely means for a departure — which still isn’t guaranteed at this point.Receiving teams in sign-and-trades get hard-capped, making the prospect more daunting for the likes of the Lakers or Clippers.
But Marks has a history of constructing complex trades when the need arises — and if the sides can’t break this stalemate, the need would be dire. He pulled off a four-team blockbuster to get Harden on Jan. 13 last year, and topped that by tying the NBA record with a five-team deal to send out Spencer Dinwiddie last Aug. 21.
The Athletic report cited the Lakers as a possible destination, but didn’t mention Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook, who has a complicated history with Durant. The Lakers would mean a reunion with LeBron James, and Irving recently spoke about the likelihood he would’ve followed James to L.A. if he hadn’t bolted Cleveland.
“I’d probably be in L.A. right now. I’d probably be travelling with his backpack. Nah, I’m joking, man,” Irving said on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “We’ve had conversations, me and Bron, plenty of conversations. …That’s my dog, shout out to Bron, man.”
In speculating about the Clippers, The Athletic piece stated that two or three of Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris and Norman Powell would fit salary-wise alongside young sweeteners like Brandon Boston or Terance Mann. Still, it illustrates just how depressed the market has become for Irving.
Neither team has a first-round selection in Thursday’s draft, with the Knicks holding pick No. 11.
A previous report stated that the Nets were unwilling to give Irving a long-term deal, and The Post reported that league execs expected the Nets to make up to 15% of any extension include “unlikely bonuses.”
It can’t be confirmed whether the cause of the impasse is related to length, money, language or something else.
But The Athletic report follows one last week by Jake Fischer in an online chat with Eddie Gonzalez of Boardroom, owned by Durant, in which Fischer cast doubt on Irving’s future in Brooklyn.
Marks would clearly consult with Durant before making any seismic move like dealing Irving.
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