Exactly one month after the Brooklyn Nets ugly exit from the 2022 NBA playoffs to the hands of the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn and superstar point guard Kyrie Irving are back in the news. According to reports, the Nets are unwilling to sign Kyrie Irving to a long-term contract after the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. With this news, let’s break down all the possible options the Nets should explore with Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie Irving Declines Player Option
This would be a drastic turn of events and most likely won’t happen but the option should be explored. In this case, the reports would have to turn out to be 100 percent accurate and bother Irving enough to test the open market as soon as possible. Irving would rather choose his next team immediately than be traded even in an NBA world where the player has a lot of bargaining power. However, it’s an option that more than likely won’t materialize since Irving would be leaving his superstar teammate Kevin Durant. He’d also be leaving 34 million dollars on the table. Irving as a basketball talent is worth that much money but his stock is lower because of how much time he missed this past season. All in all, it’s a choice that won’t lead to greener pastures for Irving and certainly not the Nets.
Nets Extend Irving to Shorter Deal
Brooklyn has numerous ways they can go about keeping Kyrie Irving on the team long-term. The trepidations for re-signing him are valid but this may be a worthwhile compromise. NBA megastars in the past have chosen this route of signing for max level money on a per-year basis but not committing to a full max contract in years. Perhaps the Nets could offer Irving a one plus one deal or a shorter two-year contract. They’d still have to pay him well over max level money for his talents but wouldn’t be tethered on a string for the long term. LeBron James has used this strategy before in his career. Kevin Durant nearly did it with the Thunder back in 2016 free agency. This option would allow the Nets to retain Irving’s one-of-a-kind basketball skills but not be required to pay him a king’s ransom if their relationship turns sour. The only question is would Kyrie Irving accept these terms?
Brooklyn Forks Over a Full Max Contract
Based on the reports this option would seem unlikely in the here and now but a lot could change. Right now, Kyrie Irving’s stock isn’t peaking. He missed a lot of the season because he refused to take the vaccine. Irving also missed time due to injury which has been a trend over his career. When he played in the regular season, Kyrie was sensational but did disappoint alongside Durant in the playoffs. So the max contract doesn’t look like an attractive option for the Nets now but it may look better in the future. Say Irving accepts the player option and goes bonkers next year. He balls out, makes an All-NBA team, and helps lead the Nets to some playoff success. If he can remain healthy and on the court for 2023 then the Nets could be in a situation where paying Irving makes the most sense.
Nets Trade Kyrie Irving Away/Let Him Walk
Herein lies a semi-disastrous plan that would be a ban look for the Nets franchise. They brought on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the 2019 summer to win a championship and going this route puts that goal in serious jeopardy. The situation would have to go in the complete opposite direction of what’s discussed above. Irving and the Nets relationship would grow worse and worse. In this case, we’d probably see Irving miss more time in 2023 and the Nets front office would therefore get even more restless. It’s unclear what Durant would make of this potential mess but either way, he’d be unhappy. More and more reports circle on how the Nets refuse to extend Irving. Irving himself wouldn’t request a trade since he’s on tap to become an unrestricted free agent by the end of next season. But the Nets would look to get a trade package done and get some assets in return for Irving. If they can’t get a deal done then they’d risk the worst scenario of them all. Letting Irving walk with nothing in return.
Any way the Nets choose to go is a risky one. They not only have to mend the situation with Irving heading into next season but whatever they choose will have lasting effects on their other superstar Kevin Durant. Since he and Irving are so close, Brooklyn has to take extreme precautions and not lose both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. You’d think re-signing Irving would make Durant happy but the situation is fluid. One thing is for certain. The Brooklyn Nets must tread carefully when making a final decision in the not so distant future.