With the basketball world all eyes on the Nets and their potential star split, Kyrie Irving put an end to speculation on Monday.
The seven-time All-Star will pick his $37 million player option for the 2022-23 season to fulfill his four-year contract signed in 2019, as well as his commitment to the franchise and Kevin Durant, who joined Irving in Brooklyn in the summer of 2019. Although Durant is considering seriously In his future with the franchise, according to sources, Irving has gone beyond pursuing multiple scenarios where he could have picked his deal and traded it before Wednesday’s deadline.
Irving will return to Brooklyn, and if owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks decide to bring back the Big Three from Durant, Irving and Ben Simmons, the Nets will have a chance to contend for the championship. However, since the season-ending sweep against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs without Simmons, Joe Harris and struggling Seth Curry, underlying issues have persisted throughout these networks. That faded into Irving’s future and contract discussions that ended with his decision to return for next season, and most recently, whether Durant’s assessment of the franchise could push him away.
Irving’s agent, Sheliya Riley Irving, and the Nets front office have had extensive and productive discussions about the extension over the past six days, with sources on both sides describing good-faith negotiations for a new agreement. The Nets and Shetellia Riley Irving worked through several proposals, including a two-year maximum extension that included incentives based on games played as well as a four-year maximum that included two guaranteed years and three and four year incentives based on games played He played it, sources said, the first and second years. Irving has shown a willingness to accept an incentive-based deal before a final network showdown, according to sources: a short-term contract extension that protects both sides with a player option. Brooklyn refused.
Durant has publicly asserted that he and Irving will remain friends regardless of the outcome of these negotiations, but the Nets recognized their close relationship when they entered talks with Irving over an incentive-packed deal.
Sources said Nets and Irving came close to reaching an agreement late last week before talks broke down.
Sources said Irving has three potential enabling and trading options available to pursue before making his final decision. Across the league, there are only five teams with expected salary cap space: Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando, Indiana and New York, all of whom like to build around younger players or prioritize other free agents. For their part, the Lakers were more excited to include Irving as a free agent than they were to get the All-NBA guard three times via trade, sources said. As Irving was going through his picking and trading options — as well as the possibility of joining the Lakers in free agency — the decision to return to Brooklyn crystallized.
The focus now turns to the Nets, players willing to stay committed to the task at hand and whether Tsai and Marks are able to fix the issues that have led to several teams across the league preparing for the possibility of Durant and Irving trading this week. Several sources said there are real contentious issues to be addressed between network ownership, management and players, and the nets could still decide to move Irving this season or next. Will Tsai and Marx choose to rebuild and start from scratch — or can all sides restore relationships and rearrange the list around Durant, Irving, Simmons, and role players like Harris, Carrey and Nick Claxton?
With teams across the league preparing for Irving’s possible departure, the question became: How will Irving’s decision on Monday affect Durant? The 12-time All-Star has four guaranteed seasons worth nearly $200 million in his contract, signing the full maximum extension last summer as a sign of commitment to the Nets. Next season, Brooklyn is also set to have a healthy squad of Simmons, Harris and Curry, who make the roster of title contenders.
Many teams are expected to continue to pursue Irving via trade, but his selection is causing clubs to consider closely whether to exchange assets in a deal for a player who will enter unrestricted free agency in 2023. Teams across the league understand Irving’s talent, and now a full season in 2022-23 gives him the opportunity to prove himself again, then return to the market and earn the maximum contract next summer. Multiple sources familiar with his decision said Irving wants to prioritize winning next season’s championship and show why he is one of the best players in the league.
Currently, Irving is back in Brooklyn. These networks still have serious matters in order to determine the direction of the franchise.
Lerox: Answering CBA Questions About Kyrie Irving’s Decision
Schaeffer: What does Kyrie Irving’s decision mean for the network
(Top photo: David Butler II/USA Today)