The Brooklyn Nets are apparently ready to blow things up.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the Nets are prepared for the possibility of losing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant this offseason.
"They would rather lose them both than go through what they went through last season, which was a miserable season under the situation that Kyrie Irving contributed to creating," Windhorst said Monday on This Just In.
Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported the Nets have given Irving permission to seek a sign-and-trade. Rumors have persisted in Irving's interest in joining the Los Angeles Lakers, but any deal would almost certainly require a third team willing to take on Russell Westbrook and send out attractive assets.
Windhorst said the Nets do not want to embark in a full-scale rebuild and would prioritize players who would allow them to stay competitive should Irving and Durant depart this offseason.
Durant's displeasure with the Nets has been directly tied to his relationship with Irving, who damaged his public reputation and frustrated behind the scenes over his unwillingness to undergo COVID-19 vaccination amid New York City's coronavirus guidelines. That decision led to Irving playing only 29 regular-season games, being a constant source of distraction and the Nets finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference and having to make the playoffs via the play-in game. James Harden's midseason trade request was also caused, in part, by Irving's absence.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers are the only team currently willing to engage in a sign-and-trade for Irving. By contrast, the Nets would have a never-ending supply of teams willing to take on Durant, who has four years remaining on his contract.
Wojnarowski reported Durant has been "an advocate" for the Nets to re-sign Irving to a long-term contract. Brooklyn, by all accounts, has balked at making such a commitment to Irving, who has played in only 103 games since signing with the franchise in 2019.
The odds remain that Irving and Brooklyn will work something out. Assuming Durant and Irving want to continue playing together—and, by all accounts, they do—Brooklyn is the only realistic option for that to happen. The Nets going from having Durant, Irving and James Harden on their roster in January to none of them in July would be one of the largest disasters in NBA history. It makes too much sense for cooler heads to prevail.
That said, the situation has reached a potential breaking point ahead of the Wednesday deadline for Irving to decide whether to opt into his contract for the 2022-23 season.