As Wednesday’s deadline for players to exercise or decline their options for next season approaches, all eyes are on Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, as his departure could also pave the way for Kevin Durant to ask out — which would lead to one of the all-time bidding wars in NBA history.
On Monday morning, there appeared to be little in the way of positive momentum between the Nets and Irving, with Zach Lowe reporting on ESPN’s Get Up! that a max offer was not going to be on the table from Brooklyn and they seemed willing to draw a line in the sand to not be “held hostage” by Kyrie and KD.
“The max deal, everything I’ve heard, is not coming [for Kyrie Irving]. The Nets are not going to be held hostage by the threat of Kyrie & then Kevin Durant following them out the door.”
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) June 27, 2022
Later in the morning, a bombshell report from Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News indicated that not only was there not any positivity in contract talks between Irving and the Nets, but that Kyrie had requested and been granted permission to seek out sign-and-trade offers from other teams.
In fact, things are trending the opposite direction: While Nets GM Sean Marks and superstar forward Kevin Durant have yet to speak this offseason, Irving’s camp has requested and received permission from the Nets to speak with other teams about sign-and-trade packages, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. The belief among both league and player circles is that Irving is gone and the Seven-Eleven Era is over before it ever began.
That is the most significant report yet that Irving’s tenure in Brooklyn is over and that things are truly moving towards his departure in the next few weeks — and follows Shams Charania saying it was “expected” that Kyrie would seek a trade on Draft day. The group of teams on Irving’s preferred list (Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs and 76ers) are all capped out teams, meaning a sign-and-trade is the only option — although some, like the Lakers and Clippers, would need him to opt in and trade for him on his current $36+ million salary to get it done.
We will now see what happens in the next couple of days, because if Irving picks up his player option it would indicate what teams will be able to get involved, while if he hits free agency it shifts who would be favored to land him — and now the clock is ticking on what KD will try to do.