Though there had been ramblings about it throughout the year, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant joining the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 came as a bit of a shock to a lot of fans. Kyrie guaranteed that he would be re-signing with the Boston Celtics in free agency, and Durant was fresh off of three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors, collecting two titles and two Finals MVPs in the process. But Irving and Durant chose the Nets because they wanted to create a new culture in Brooklyn and have a chance to create their own legacy.
But the Kyrie and KD era in Brooklyn has been underwhelming, to say the least. They have failed to make a conference finals appearance in their three seasons together as teammates, and in this year’s playoffs, they got swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. With the clock ticking for Kyrie to opt into the final year of his deal, NBA Insider Shams Charania of “The Athletic” says that Durant has already begun weighing his options as it pertains to his future with the Nets.
“Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is monitoring the Nets’ situation regarding the uncertainty surrounding the franchise, sources confirmed to The Athletic on Thursday,” Charania writes per “The Athletic”. “This decision now opens the path for Kyrie Irving to proceed on finding a new home via opt-in and trade.”
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Insider Reveals Kyrie’s List of Preferred Destinations
Irving has until June 29 to opt into the final year of his contract. If he elects not to, he will become a free agent in July. Though Irving has stood firm in his commitment to the franchise, the All-Star guard has made some surprising choices before. Most notably, forcing a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers after three trips to the NBA Finals from 2015-2017.
NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski says that the Nets star has already compiled a list of preferred destinations if he and the Nets cannot agree on the terms of a potential new deal.
“If Kyrie Irving can’t reach an agreement to stay with Brooklyn, he has a list of teams he’d like them to consider on sign-and-trades, including Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs, and 76ers. None of those teams have cap space to sign him without Nets’ help,” Wojnarowski tweeted on June 23.
“Those are teams who Irving has interest in, but he isn’t necessarily a priority for all of them, sources said.”
Irving Could Agree to MLE Deal With Lakers
The Nets have found themselves in a bind with Irving. And the more time passes, the more likely he will become a free agent on July 1. To make the situation even more worrisome, money does not seem to be a motivating factor for Irving in his new deal. The fact that the Nets can offer Irving the most money gives them little to no leverage in this situation.
“In a perfect world, the Nets find a way to do a deal that still gives them some leverage to get Kyrie Irving on the court next season, but certainly, if he’s willing to take significantly less money, he could walk,” Wojnarowski writes per ESPN.
“He could perhaps sign that $6 million exception with the Lakers. That would be a $30 million pay cut but honestly last year, he lost about $17 million for being unvaccinated and out of the Nets lineup.”
The Nets have officially entered crunch time as the future of their franchise hangs in the balance.