This NBA offseason’s free agent market might have just added its biggest name yet. As per a report Monday morning from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, conversations between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets have gone “stagnant,” perhaps paving the way for Irving to decline his player option for 2022-23 and head to free agency:
Sources: Kyrie Irving, Nets are at impasse in conversations about his future in Brooklyn, clearing way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open market. Lakers and Knicks expected to emerge among potential suitors.
Inside Pass at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/VbOOtrzdTB
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 20, 2022
Here’s more from Charania’s piece on this:
One of the most anticipated free-agency situations involves Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, who has a June 29 deadline on his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season. However, multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said.
…“I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” Irving said on April 25 after the Nets’ season-ending sweep to the Celtics in the first round of the East playoffs.
Nearly two months later, it appears both sides have serious work to do in order to find a resolution that brings Irving back to Brooklyn and his co-star in Durant, who is under contract with the Nets through 2025-26. Several teams across the league have kept tabs on the situation, wondering about the future of Irving and Brooklyn.
The Lakers, Knicks and Clippers are expected to be among the interested suitors if Irving heads elsewhere, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
It certainly would be interesting if Irving wound up moving on from Brooklyn. The 30-year-old point guard has been with the Nets since signing there as a free agent in the summer of 2019, and he played a large role in recruiting Durant to join him there that summer. But he missed 26 games that fall and winter thanks to a shoulder injury, missed 18 games the next year thanks to further injuries, and then missed much of this past season thanks to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate and his decision not to get vaccinated, playing only on the road from January through the end of March before the city relaxed that mandate.
This past season also saw Brooklyn eventually send James Harden , once seen as key to their “Big 3,” to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons. Simmons then didn’t actually play for them, citing both physical injuries and mental health concerns. And their season ended with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics (Irving is seen at top warming up ahead of a game in that series). Despite that, though, as recently as earlier this month, reports had “all indications” pointing to Irving staying with the Nets.
Over three seasons with the Nets, Irving has played in 103 regular-season games, averaging 27.1 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds across 35.3 minutes per game. If he does decide to move on, there will undoubtedly be plenty of interested teams, including the three Charania mentions. But Irving’s time in Brooklyn has also come with controversy, from the games he missed over that vaccine mandate through his reported clashes with Harden through the fines he accumulated for both himself and the team for refusing to fulfill media obligations to his fine for violating league and health and safety protocols to his fine for his double bird to Boston fans. And if this is the end to his tenure with the Nets, it certainly didn’t hit the highs he or the team hoped for when he initially signed on there.
[The Athletic, Basketball-Reference; image from David Butler II/USA Today Sports]