Since his arrival in Brooklyn in 2019, Kyrie Irving has yet to play a complete season with the Nets. Irving’s repeated absences were put under an even finer microscope this past season. He only played 29 games after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which was mandatory for him to play Nets home games at Barclays Center.
It has all led to one of the more pivotal situations in the history of the Nets franchise. Multiple reports have confirmed that the Nets are non-committal on offering Irving a max extension this summer. And the clock is ticking for Kyrie to decide if he will opt into the final year of his deal this season or opt out and become a free agent this summer. NBA analyst Bill Simmons says that now is the time for the Nets to cut ties with Kyrie.
“You have to move on from Kyrie if you’re the Nets. You cannot bring him back; you have to sign and trade him,” Simmons said on the June 9 episode of “The Ringer” podcast.
Similarly, Simmons’ co-host of “The Ringer,” Kevin O’Connor says there is a lot of ‘noise’ surrounding Kyrie and the Nets. But he says the issue is that no team is likely to want him outside of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“There’s a lot of noise out there about what could happen with the Nets,” O’Connor said. “Who else is going to want Kyrie besides the Lakers?”
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Trade Proposal Swaps Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell
In a new report from Kevin O’Connor, the insider notes that All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell is being shopped by the Minnesota Timberwolves after a disappointing playoff performance in the first round. In May, Chris Miller of NBC Sports proposed a trade where the Nets shipped Kyrie to Minnesota for a reunion with their former point guard.
“Minnesota could make sense in part because they have a player at the same position on a similar contract in D’Angelo Russell. Russell, of course, used to play for the Nets before he was sent to Golden State as part of the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade,” Miller writes per “NBC Sports Washington”.
“Russell would work just fine alongside Durant and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, while the Timberwolves could move up in the Western Conference with another star like Irving. Some issues for Minnesota to consider would be 1) they are already better on offense than defense, 2) Irving is a higher usage player than Russell, and 3) he has some overlap with Anthony Edwards as an attacking guard.”
Nets Position Not Ideal, but It Could Be Worse
While everyone has their reservations about Kyrie both as an individual and a player, the reality is that his situation with the Nets is not likely to change. The reason for that is, he is one of the top 15-20 best players in the NBA, so replacing him would be almost impossible. And the Nets front office is likely aware of that.
Although Nets fans may be panicking about the fact they have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs, let alone clinch an NBA Finals berth in the Kyrie and Durant era, they are still one of the better-positioned teams for the 2023 season. Already scheduled to bring back Durant and Kyrie and add Ben Simmons and Seth Curry with a clean bill of health, the Nets could be in contention for next year’s title.