The Brooklyn Nets are falling apart at the seams. Negotiations on a contract extension for Kyrie Irving are at a standstill as rumors percolate about a disgruntled Kevin Durant. There is a decent chance the Nets could lose both superstars this offseason.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NBA is sitting back and enjoying the show. A messy breakup in Brooklyn could cause a complete reshuffling of the landscape. Irving would be the first domino to drop and the seven-time All-Star has provided a list of teams he would consider if he and the Nets can’t reach an agreement. Buckle up: the Philadelphia 76ers are one of six teams listed.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving would welcome a sign-and-trade to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavericks, and Sixers. One problem, none of those teams currently have the cap space needed to sign Irving. They would need the Nets to eat some of the $36.5 million salary he is owed for the 2022-23 season. What a predicament.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Durant is “monitoring” the Irving situation and considering options for his own future. Durant has four years and $194.2 million left on his deal, setting up what could be could be the largest trade return in NBA history.
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James Harden ‘Good Friends’ with Irving
There’s no denying Irving’s immense talent as one of the best guards in basketball. He averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists per game last season in 29 contests. The 30-year-old missed the first half of the year after refusing to get vaccinated, which could have rubbed some teammates the wrong way.
Not James Harden. The Sixers guard admitted Irving’s decision played a “very minimal” role in his trade request. It impacted the team chemistry in Brooklyn, but not their relationship.
“Very minimal, honestly,” Harden said of Irving’s vaccination status, via CBS Sports. “Me and Kyrie are very good friends, and whatever he’s going through, or still going through that’s his personal preference but it definitely did impact the team.”
Joel Embiid Had Honest Take to Nets Situation
Joel Embiid has had a few NSFW run-ins with Durant on the basketball court. The two exchanged words twice last year — once after Embiid plowed into Durant in the paint; then, Durant trash-talked Embiid at the foul line following a hard foul in another game. Those outbursts seemed to be in the heat of the moment, in the midst of battle. Remember, Embiid lobbied the Sixers to get Durant back in 2016.
The Sixers’ big man has repeatedly spoken highly of Durant’s skills and even called him a better basketball player than himself. Embiid was extremely complimentary during an appearance on Draymond Green’s podcast in March when discussing what went wrong between Durant and Harden in Brooklyn.
“I don’t know what happened over there,” Embiid told Green. “Maybe it wasn’t the best situation and I would imagine that he put a lot of thought into making that decision. Because you look at leaving a team with frickin’ Kevin Durant, like Kevin Durant. You’re playing with him, you know how good he is — and I always said that I really believe in myself as far as talent and what I can do on the basketball floor, especially skills when it comes to my size and all that stuff — if there’s one guy that I think for his size and what we’re able to do on the floor, that’s the one guy that I’m like, yeah, he’s more talented than me. Bcause the guy is 7-feet tall and he can do everything on the basketball court even better than I can.”