The Brooklyn Nets and point guard Kyrie Irving endured a tumultuous start to the 2022-23 season, but the situation has turned a corner for the better.
The positive direction Irving has taken is so impactful that "several NBA executives" told HoopsHype's Michael Scotto there's a belief that he will remain with the Nets beyond this season. The 30-year-old is playing the year on a $37 million player option and can become a free agent this summer.
"I think Kyrie ends up with a short extension with the Nets," one executive predicted. "A sign-and-trade for Kyrie this summer would be tough given the length needed and assets to make it happen from another team. I think there's an incentive for an extension on a one-plus-one or two-year deal."
Irving was suspended in November for his failure to "unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs" following his promotion of an antisemitic film on his social media accounts. He was reinstated by the team later that month after missing eight games, and he issued an apology for his social media activity.
"I just really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community," Irving told SNY's Ian Begley at the time. "Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community, I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions for the time that it's been since the post was first put up."
Irving is averaging 25.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for Brooklyn, which is fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 27-16 record. He leads all guards in the East in All-Star voting, per the most recent returns. His offensive production is needed even more now that the Nets are without star forward Kevin Durant, who is out with an MCL sprain in his right knee.
While staying in Brooklyn seems likely for Irving, there is also a chance that he seeks a change in scenery. He had been linked to trade rumors with the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason, and he could look to reunite with star forward LeBron James, as they helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship in 2016.
"If I'm Brooklyn, I'm not going past two years. I don't know if Kyrie would accept that," the executive told Scotto. "The Lakers will go into the summer with cap space and can offer two years, $60 million, where he could rejoin LeBron James and play with Anthony Davis."
Irving and the Nets will be looking to end a three-game skid when they return to action on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns (21-24).