The next 48 hours will apparently be a staring contest between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, played out via various reports and leaks coming from both camps.
On Monday morning, we got word that Kyrie had requested, and been granted, permission to find sign-and-trade offers from other teams as he seeks a new deal before Wednesday’s deadline to exercise his player option. However, that is easier said than done, as Irving hasn’t exactly made himself the most desirable trade target in recent years, with perception around the league that his on-court value isn’t worth the off-court headaches that come with him being on the roster. With Irving seeking a new home, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is only one team with real interest in a sign-and-trade, the Los Angeles Lakers, but they don’t have a package that interests the Nets.
ESPN Sources: Outside of the Lakers, there are currently no known teams planning pursuit of sign-and-trades for Nets G Kyrie Irving. No sign-and-trades can be formally discussed until after 6 PM on Thursday. Brooklyn isn’t believed to have interest in available Lakers packages.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2022
That, of course, is a problem in acquiring Irving if he opts in to his contract — which is the only way the Lakers could land him due to the hard cap — but there is one alternative that was initially floated as almost laughable but now seems like an actual possibility: Kyrie opting out and signing a $6.3 million taxpayer midlevel in L.A.
Doing so would be giving up $30 million next year, but Irving has made it clear that money isn’t everything to him in recent years — most notably losing paychecks all of this past year in his refusal to get vaccinated — and if there were ever a star-caliber player to make such a move, Irving would be at the top of the list. There will surely be more leaks from both sides over the next two days — and possibly, all the way into free agency — as the leverage game is afoot. It certainly seems like this one is coming from the Brooklyn side to indicate they aren’t willing to trade him to the Lakers and making clear that Kyrie’s options are limited.