The Brooklyn Nets initially brought Kyrie Irving to town hoping the superstar point guard could help the franchise win their first NBA Championship. Three seasons later, the Nets haven’t gotten further than the Semifinals.
Now after just 103 regular season games, there’s some question as to whether the Nets are looking to continue their relationship with Irving. Ditto for Irving, who had his local issues just getting on the court due to disagreements with the local vaccination requirements in New York City.
Despite Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons still being a member of the Nets, giving the team what would appear to be a strong chance to compete in the playoffs next season, it’s possible Irving exercises his opt-out clause to become a free agent.
- Kyrie Irving contract: $36.9 million player option
If Irving picks up his player option, he can still be traded elsewhere, but if he opts out, Irving immediately becomes a free agent, who can sign with any of the 30 NBA franchises. Here are five ideal free agent landing spots for the seven-time All-Star.
Kyrie Irving joins the Pelicans’ flock
Though they would have to clear a lot of cap space, the New Orleans Pelicans could end up being a fine landing space for Kyrie Irving. This is a team that would benefit from more veteran leadership and Irving has actually won an NBA title before.
Whether they keep Zion Williamson or not, this roster will be upgrading at point guard this offseason, and Irving figures to be one of the best available.
- Kyrie Irving stats in 2021-22: 27.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, 41.8 3P%
Having a top-scoring duo of Irving and Brandon Ingram would make life difficult on opponents, with both players capable of shooting from anywhere, or driving past defenders on the way to the hoop. It may be a pipe dream, but if the Pelicans can pull it off, Irving would be a nice get.
Pairing Irving with a two-time MVP in Denver
If the Denver Nuggets are looking to shake up their roster, Kyrie Irving could find his next home located in the mountains. As Jamal Murray recovers from his torn ACL that kept him out of action during the 2021-22 season, the team is likely best off improving from within.
But if the Nuggets feel Irving can be an upgrade over Murray, they shouldn’t hesitate to look into a trade. Murray would be slightly less expensive than Irving and is also five years younger.
The Nets would then likely be collecting additional assets from the Nuggets, as Murray’s value isn’t at an all-time high as he needs to prove his durability next season. In the end, it could be a win-win for everyone.
Kyrie Irving chooses the New York Knicks
If Irving becomes a free agent, he’s eligible to sign a four-year max contract, paying out $182.1 million over the course of the deal.
The New York Knicks desperately need a star attraction, and even though it wouldn’t necessarily solve Irving’s past issues with playing in New York City, changing from the Nets to the Knicks might be his preference.
You either love Irving or you hate him at this point, there is no in-between. Yet, if Irving could make the Knicks relevant again, he’d be hard for any New Yorker to dislike. He’d still be in a massive media market and would easily be the face of a franchise.
The Knicks could do a lot worse at point guard, but with Irving, at least they’d have a true star in the Big Apple.
Irving joins Luka Doncic in Dallas
The Dallas Mavericks are a strong bet to make big changes to their roster after getting so far, but coming up short in the Western Conference Finals. Luka Doncic is good enough to carry his team to the playoffs each year, but he’s only one player.
What Doncic needs is another high-level player who can switch off with Doncic, whether that’s taking the ball down the court, running the offense, or just taking over in general. If there’s one player who might be attainable who is capable of helping the Mavs reach the NBA Finals, it might be Irving.
Miami Heat add another star to South Beach
Jimmy Butler is an incredible player, one of the best on both ends of the floor, but he really shouldn’t be a team’s primary scorer. That’s not his game. Butler can go off for 40 points, but it shouldn’t be necessary to stay afloat.
Like LeBron James had Irving in his younger days, Butler needs a sidekick. Irving may not be the defensive stalwart the Heat culture embodies, but he’s certainly a winner, and he knows what it takes to be a part of a Championship team.
As the Heat search for another star to pair with Butler and Bam Adebayo, getting a true floor general in the form of Irving may give them their best shot at winning the Finals once again, getting Jimmy Buckets his first NBA ring.