While they still need to bridge their current divide, the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving are likely to remain wedded to each other for the foreseeable future, according to the New York Post's Brian Lewis.
Lewis reported Tuesday that the Nets and Irving "are still working to find a happy medium in Brooklyn rather than an exit strategy out of it."
"Several league sources said the perception is that this is a game of poker being played by Irving to bluff Nets GM Sean Marks into concessions, as The Post reported Monday," Lewis added. "An ESPN report Tuesday concurred, and most around the league feel a return to Brooklyn is the most probable end result."
The alarm bells began ringing when The Athletic's Shams Charania reported negotiations between the team and player "have gone stagnant," leading to an "impasse."
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer supplied additional context when he reported the sides "appear keen on holding ongoing conversations about building together in Brooklyn."
Still, sorting out the particulars could be tricky since the Nets would like to give Irving a shorter contract with incentives, while the seven-time All-Star wants a longer deal, per Fischer.
If nothing else, a continued marriage between Irving and Brooklyn could be one of convenience.
Should he decline his $36.9 million player option for 2022-23, Irving might struggle to get a max deal—or something approaching that—elsewhere. For one, there aren't many teams projected to have that kind of salary-cap space available. There's also the matter of the 30-year-old's injury history and at times eccentric personality.
From the Nets' side, there's almost no scenario in which they lose Irving and remain as strong as they were before. Brooklyn doesn't have enough money to sign another star if he leaves as a free agent. Likewise, a sign-and-trade would likely yield a player of lesser value given how much Irving's stock has taken a hit.
Landing some role players in a sign-and-trade would provide much-needed depth for the Nets, but they might struggle to win a title if Kevin Durant, who will be in his age-34 campaign, has to shoulder the kind of load he did in his first two seasons in Brooklyn. His 31.2 percent usage rate with the Nets is his highest with any one team, per Basketball Reference.
With Durant and Irving both healthy, the franchise might still have a path to a championship.