Kyrie Irving again proved that he is one of the best pot stirrers in the NBA. The All-Star point guard effectively took over the NBA Draft with rumors that the likelihood of him leaving the Brooklyn Nets is on the rise. Adrian Wojnarowski even reported the six teams that Irving would be interested in joining should he leave Brooklyn. However, what felt like the most surprising report was that Kyrie was potentially considering signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for the $6 million mid-level exception.
Kyrie Irving Latest
On June 24, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that Kyrie Irving to the Lakers could be a real possibility.
“The Lakers noise, again, really tough to pull off, but it’s somewhat substantive there,” Amick said. “You’ve got people within the league actually thinking like, ‘Man, I think he might find a way to get back with LeBron,’ and I do get the sense that LeBron would open that door, and we’ll see if they can pull it off.”
But looking at the timing of everything, it is hard not to wonder if this news is just Irving pulling the strings for leverage in his upcoming contract negotiations.
Irving has until June 29, to opt-out of the final year of his contract in Brooklyn. The Nets have been reported to be ‘unwilling‘ to sign Irving to a long-term extension citing an inability to rely on the star point guard. With all the leverage of contract negotiations tilting towards the Nets, rumors about Irving being willing to sign for $6 million to play with LeBron James again certainly help level the negotiations.
Is Kyrie Behind the Leaks?
The Irving news had NetsDaily writer Alec Sturm speculating, saying, “The Nets could probably offer Kyrie the full max tonight, and this would all be over with.” How can you read that and not wonder if Irving has been behind the scenes stirring the pot to balance contract negotiations?
On the June 22 episode of Basketball Illuminati, NBA insiders Tom Haberstroh and Amin Elhassan explained situtations that players have manipulated the media to get what they want.
“Imagine you’re an NBA player, you want to get your side of the story out there, but you can’t just go out there and say it, right? Because there are all types of repercussions for saying it. We saw that with Anthony Davis a few years back, saying there are a bunch of teams he’d rather play for than the New Orleans Pelicans, and he got fined as a result. So what do you do? How do you get that vibe out there? How do you let teams know prior to your opting out that if you’re interested, maybe I’m interested too? You do a well-positioned leak. You give the information to a news breaker, the news breaker citing the confidentiality of sources will never out you as the one who has given that information. That information that now very publicly paints you in a certain light.” Elhassan suggested.
Is this what Kyrie Irving did? His actions seem to suggest that it is certainly a possibility. Just over an hour after the ‘impasse’ report that started the landslide of Kyrie Irving rumors, Irving issued a cryptic tweet that felt a little calculated if you know the show the GIF was referencing. Whether or not Irving’s tweet was a confirmation he is behind the link may never be fully known. However, no matter what the leverage Irving has in negotiation with the Nets certainly shifted heavily into his favor.
“They (the media) were used to character assassinate Kyrie Irving at first,” Elhassan stated. “But what Kyrie has now done, or his camp has done by leaking, we suspect, to Shams Charania perhaps possible alternate plans that don’t involve the Brooklyn Nets. He’s now using the media, teaming up with the media to put pressure on the Brooklyn Nets.”
Frequent newbreaker and writer for Bleacher Report Jake Fischer also joined the show to share his reaction.
“Kyrie talks about people are pawns in the media, and him reacting to a report that would, in theory would benefit his side of the negotiations is very pawn of the media like. That was my reaction to the tweet.” Fischer shared on Basketball Illuminati.
Do any of these rumors have any substance? It’s hard to say, but after Kyrie Irving missed out on millions of dollars for sitting out games this season it’s hard to think he would be willing to sign for the mid-level exception to play with LeBron again. Many believe that Irving will still be back in Brooklyn despite the reports and there has to be a reason for that. If Irving does return to Brooklyn on a long-term extension it’s hard not to believe this was all just an extremely calculated play to level negotiations.