Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 with the hopes of competing for multiple NBA titles, creating an unguardable duo with Kevin Durant. Just a few years later, it seems the All-Star point guard has worn out his welcome.
Following ugly departures from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, Irving again finds himself at odds with another NBA organization. The Nets thought they would be a perennial contender with Irving, winning at least one championship and becoming a powerhouse in the NBA.
Instead, Brooklyn’s team became one of the biggest disappointments. Irving’s voluntary absence from the team early in the regular season caused friction for James Harden and the Nets’ organization. Even when the All-NBA guard returned to the lineup, bouts of inconsistency served as another source of frustration.
Irving will hold some control this offseason, holding a $36.5 million player option for the 2022-’23 season. If he opts in, a 15% trade kicker makes a trade unlikely for Brooklyn. While the Nets might be open to Irving returning for one more shot at a championship, it seems clear he has no long-term future in Brooklyn.
According to Kristian Winfield of the NY Daily News, sources close to the Nets’ decision-making suggest the team is “outright unwilling’ to offer Irving a long-term contract this summer.
The report doesn’t come as a surprise. While the Nets tolerated everything that happened and supported Irving publicly, it became evident there was dissatisfaction within the front office. It would have been worth it if the Nets went on a deep playoff run.
Instead, Brooklyn experienced a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. After scoring 49 points in Game 1, Irving combined for 46 points in the final three contests.
The Nets know Irving is one of the best point guards in the NBA and he can make a team a championship contender when he’s available. Unfortunately, availability is far from a guarantee with Irving and the risks of him sitting out for personal reasons or missing time with injuries outweigh the potential rewards of his on-court ability in a long-term deal.
This likely ends with Durant and Irving making another run together in Brooklyn next season. After that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both players depart next summer with Durant leaving via trade.