EXCLUSIVE: Top Contender ‘Invested’ in Stealing Kyrie Irving From Nets in 2023

Andre Drummond Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant

Getty (From left) Andre Drummond, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets officially opened training camp for the 2023 NBA season on September 27, which means they can finally put the drama of the offseason behind them. For those who may be tardy to the party, the Nets faced a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the franchise this summer.

Kyrie Irving had a player option in the final year of his deal that would have allowed him to test free agency. In addition, All-Star forward Kevin Durant demanded a trade from the Nets in June, which was followed by two months of negotiations that went nowhere before he ultimately decided to rescind his request.

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Lakers Expected To Pursue Kyrie Irving in 2023

The Nets will debut their new All-Star trio of Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant when they open the season on October 19 against the New Orleans Pelicans. But the drama surrounding their future may not be over quite yet. Kyrie will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, which will allow him to go to any team of his choosing.

As one of the most skilled players in the NBA, he will be arguably the top free agent on the market in 2023 and should have plenty of suitors lining up for the opportunity to ink him to a long-term deal. One Western Conference executive says that the Los Angeles Lakers will be among the teams that pursue the Nets star.

“No matter what [the Lakers] do with trades or however they reconstruct this year, they are going to keep an eye on next summer. That is where they have a lot invested, being able to get another star-type player next summer,” the executive said to Heavy Sports.

“They’re going to look at Kyrie Irving, of course, but he is probably not their top choice. They will look at Jerami Grant, who they liked for a long time, same with Myles Turner. I think Andrew Wiggins would be a big prize there because he can play two-ways.”

Lakers, Nets Discussed Kyrie, Westbrook Swap in July

With the Nets having a turbulent season in 2022 and Irving entering the final year of the contract he signed in 2019, the Nets tested the waters on the trade market for their starting point guard this offseason.

But after playing in just 103 games in his three seasons with the Nets, rival teams were cautious of how much of Irving they would get in a potential deal. As a result, the market for a trade for Kyrie this summer was simple — Lakers or bust.

In July, Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the Lakers and Nets briefly engaged in trade talks that would have swapped Kyrie and former NBA Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook. Haynes noted there was “optimism” between the sides that they could reach a deal, but that never came to fruition.

Despite the Lakers’ continued aggressive pursuit of the seven-time All-Star, Irving has repeatedly expressed his desire to remain with the Nets. As he seeks a long-term deal from the franchise in 2023, he’ll have to reprove his reliability to Brooklyn’s front office to get his desired max extension.