After weeks of rumors linking Kyrie Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers, it appears the NBA superstar is returning to the Brooklyn Nets. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Irving is opting into the final season of his four-year, $136.49 million contract which will give him a $36.5 salary for the 2022-23 season. The NBA insider added that Irving plans to play next season for the Nets and will not push for a trade to another team.
“Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is opting into his $37 million player option for the 2022-23 season, @TheAthletic @Stadium has learned,” Charania tweeted on June 27, 2022. “Irving is bypassing on multiple opt-in and trade scenarios to fulfill his four-year commitment to the Nets and Kevin Durant.”
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Does Kyrie’s Decision Eliminate the Lakers?
Charania reported that Irving is “bypassing on multiple opt-in and trade scenarios,” so it would appear to put the Lakers possibility to rest for now. That said, it does not rule out a potential change of heart from Irving as we saw him have while with the Celtics.
By opting into his current deal, Irving eliminates the possibility of signing with the Lakers for the taxpayer exception. The former All-Star also loses leverage to directly control his future until he gets to the 2023 offseason.
For the Lakers to have a chance at Irving, the guard would have to push for a trade to Los Angeles. As things stand now, Irving and LeBron James would both be free agents in 2023.
“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving told The Athletic. “I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.”
Woj: Kyrie Was Unable to Find a Sign-and-Trade Partner
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving’s decision was largely made after being unable to find a sign-and-trade deal for the Nets. By opting in, Irving would need the Nets to agree to a trade if he wants to play elsewhere in 2022-23.
“Without the ability to find a sign-and-trade deal, Kyrie Irving plans to exercise his $36M player option for next season and return to the Nets, sources confirm,” Wojnarowski detailed on Twitter.
Prior to Irving’s decision to opt-in, Wojnarowski reported that the Nets had “no interest in taking back the available Lakers packages.” The Lakers have been reluctant to trade Anthony Davis leaving Russell Westbrook as the team’s only realistic trade option if they wanted to pursue Irving.
Los Angeles would have likely needed the involvement of a third team in order to land Irving in a trade with Westbrook having little appeal to Brooklyn. The Lakers were the only team who showed an interest in pulling off a sign-and-trade for Irving, per Wojnarowski.
“Outside of the Los Angeles Lakers, there are currently no known teams planning to pursue sign-and-trade deals for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski wrote on June 27. “Irving needs a trade partner to coordinate an agreement on a deal to get a long-term, maximum contract, but only the Lakers have interest in executing a sign-and-trade once free agency opens on Thursday night, sources said. So far, the Nets have no interest in taking back the available Lakers packages, sources said.”