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Windhorst: Nets Don't Want to Pay Kyrie Irving 'Long,' 'Fully Guaranteed' Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 21, 2022

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets reportedly aren't interested in signing guard Kyrie Irving to a long-term contract.

On Tuesday's episode of Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said he has heard the Nets don't want to pay Irving a "long, massive contract that's fully guaranteed."

Despite that, Windhorst suggested that the Nets may still want Kyrie on the team, and he may still be with the organization next season.

Irving has a $36.5 million player option for next season, meaning he could opt in, opt out and test free agency, or opt out and sign a new deal with the Nets.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Monday that Irving and the Nets were "at an impasse," and that Kyrie intended to explore other options in free agency such as the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers or Lakers.

Irving is coming off a tough season that saw him limited to just 29 games because of COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

Since players who played their home games in New York City were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to suit up for almost the entirety of the season, Kyrie often wasn't available.

The Nets initially announced that Irving wouldn't play at all in 2021-22 if he didn't get vaccinated, but they changed their stance after dealing with several injuries and positive COVID-19 tests.

The seven-time All-Star performed at his typical high level when he was permitted to play, averaging 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 three-pointers made and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from beyond the arc.

While COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened in every NBA city except Toronto, Irving's unwillingness to get vaccinated last season perhaps gave the Nets some pause about committing to him long term.

Although getting vaccinated is a personal choice, there is no question that Kyrie's personal choice hurt the Nets last season.

It may have even led to the departure of James Harden, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package that included guard Ben Simmons, who didn't see any game action last season.

During the aftermath of the trade, SNY's Ian Begley reported that Irving's refusal to get vaccinated was a concern for Harden early in the season.

When healthy, engaged and playing, the 30-year-old Irving is one of the most talented players in the NBA currently and perhaps of all time.

The one-time NBA champion is a special player, and that could lead to the Nets making a play to keep him even if they have some doubts about his focus.

Windhorst's prediction is that Irving and the Nets will agree to a short-term deal at some point this week, noting that it is possible neither side is particularly happy with the outcome.

Since Irving could earn a salary starting at $42 million under a max contract, anything less than that would perhaps be a disappointment from his perspective.

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