Amidst the Kevin Durant trade request turmoil, the Brooklyn Nets also have to figure out what the future looks like for star point guard Kyrie Irving.
There was a lot of uncertainly about whether or not Irving would be on the Nets next season, but that was put to rest after the point guard picked up his player option for next season.
After that, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Irving plans on sticking around with the team for the next season.
“Kyrie Irving, he opted in with the full intent of playing out next season as a Brooklyn Net,” he told Pat McAfee. “From everything I’ve been told, in his mind he’s playing next year in Brooklyn with or without Kevin Durant in a lot of ways. Kyrie Irving opted in, I think there was an understanding that he was going to make the best decision for himself, and Kevin Durant on the other hand, is obviously making his decision as well. From everything I’ve been told, Kyrie Irving has made his intent he wants to play out next season in Brooklyn.”
However, the feeling might not be mutual as the Nets are trying to avoid a repeat of last season with Irving. The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer is “skeptical” Irving remains a Net next season unless big changes are made.
Irving Still a Lock to Return?
While there have been discussions about shipping Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers to reunite him with LeBron James, Irving still remains a member of the Nets.
Even if it doesn’t mean a trade to the Lakers, Schiffer says he’s not convinced the Nets will be keeping Irving into the next year.
“I’m still skeptical he’s a Net next season,” he said. “Would it surprise me? No. He’s from the area, and has a home and newborn there along with the rest of his family. But the vibe I got with the Nets was that last season was such a mess that they don’t want to run it back unless significant changes are made.”
Back in May, Nets general manager Sean Marks called out Irving by saying the team is looking for players who are selfless and available.
“I think we know what we’re looking for,” said Marks. “We’ve 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. That goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”
Roster Changes Ahead?
It’s no secret that Irving’s previous season with the Nets left a lot to be desired among the organization and fans alike. His talent has never been in question, but his commitment to his team has always been a point of contention.
If Irving manages to be available and healthy for the entirety of next season, coupled with Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons being in the lineup, then the Nets could be true championship contenders.
Obviously, none of that is a lock to happen, but the roster as it stands right now can certainly be considered among the best in the league. Ben Simmons is a big question mark as he hasn’t played in an NBA game in over a year, so there’s no telling what he’ll look like following back surgery. If he’s able to recapture his All-NBA form, the Nets will definitely be a formidable trade if Durant sticks around.
The Nets seem to be operating under the assumption their roster will remain intact, or else a trade for Royce O’Neale doesn’t make a ton of sense.