Windhorst: Kyrie Irving Believed to Be Returning to Nets by 'A Lot of the League'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 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

While speculation surrounding Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is already a major storyline of the NBA offseason, many around the league reportedly think he will remain with his current team.

"A lot of the league still believes that ultimately he's going to be back in Brooklyn," ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported during Wednesday's episode of NBA Today.

Windhorst also said, "I believe so" when asked if he thinks Irving will be on the Nets on opening night of the 2022-23 campaign.

Irving has until June 29 to decide on his $36.9 million player option, and Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported he and the Nets "still have ground to cover for both sides to emerge content on extension conversations."

The team would like a shorter deal with incentives, while the guard is looking for a longer-term commitment.

Whether that means he ultimately suits up for another team remains to be seen, and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Los Angeles Lakers may be a destination for the seven-time All-Star.

"The Lakers are considered the most significant threat right now for Kyrie Irving, but that would essentially entail him taking $30 million less than he can opt into in Brooklyn," Wojnarowski said. "There's a $6 million taxpayer exemption he could sign with the Lakers with."

That would mean reuniting with LeBron James after the pair won a championship together on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Irving cemented his place in NBA history by hitting what proved to be the winning three-pointer in Game 7 of the NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors.

Brooklyn had similar championship expectations in place in 2021-22 with Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden all on the same team.

However, Irving missed much of the season because he remained unvaccinated against COVID-19, Durant missed time with injuries, Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the deal that brought Ben Simmons to the Nets, and Simmons never played a game last season.

Brooklyn was swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, and there are still plenty of questions about what the team will do this offseason.

It seems as if many around the league think those offseason plans will include bringing back Irving.