Kyrie Irving Rumors: Uncertain Nets Future Considered Attempt to Leverage Contract

Adam WellsJune 21, 2022

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Contract negotiations between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are already playing out through the media as the two sides attempt to find a resolution that works for both of them.

On the latest episode of The Hoop Collective Podcast (starts at 3:10 mark), ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported there is a perception from people in the NBA that Irving's camp is attempting to create leverage by making it known he will be willing to test the marketplace in free agency.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, conversations between Irving and the Nets about his future "have gone stagnant" and the impasse "clears the way" for the 30-year-old to consider other options.

Irving hasn't officially opted out of his $36.5 million salary for next season. The seven-time All-Star has until June 29 to decide if he wants to turn down the money and become a free agent.

The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers were listed as potential destinations for Irving. The Lakers and Clippers would likely have to trade for Irving because of their cap situations.

The Knicks could sign Irving into cap space if they can clear some money. Charania cited Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kemba Walker as players who could potentially be released and/or traded if they want to add Irving.

Brian Lewis of the New York Post reported on June 6 that "all indications" point to Irving opting in to the final season of his current deal and signing an extension with the Nets.

Questions about Irving's future in Brooklyn have been an ongoing topic of conversation since the team was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.

General manager Sean Marks was non-committal when reporters asked about Irving during the Nets' end-of-season press conference on May 11.

"I think we know what we’re looking for," said Marks. "We’ve looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available. That goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here."

It's hard to call Irving's tenure in Brooklyn anything but a bust to this point. He signed a four-year, $136.5 million deal with the club in July 2019. The seven-time All-Star has appeared in a total of 103 regular-season games over the past three seasons.

The fact he did not receive a vaccine against COVID-19 made him ineligible to play in home games until March 24, which is when New York City Mayor Eric Adams changed the requirements for athletes to be allowed to parcipate in indoor activities.

Irving has been productive when he's played, averaging 27.1 points and 6.0 assists with a 40.6 three-point percentage across his three years in Brooklyn.

If Irving opts in to his deal, the Nets can offer him a four-year extension worth up to $190 million. If he opts out, the Nets can offer him a five-year extension worth up to $245 million.