It seems that rival NBA teams are wishing ill-will on the Brooklyn Nets and for a Kyrie Irving opt-out to set the stage for Kevin Durant to hit the trade block.
Along with Thursday’s NBA Draft, the biggest story in the league right now is whether mercurial superstar Kyrie Irving will opt into the final year of his contract with the Nets as the relationship between the guard and the organization is strained more than ever.
During his three seasons with the Nets, Irving has only strengthened his reputation as a player that can’t be relied on after missing most of his tenure due to injuries, personal leaves, and disinterest in getting a COVID-19 vaccination despite mandates in New York.
After the team was bounced in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and Irving admitted his limited play in 2021-2022 hurt the team, the organization’s front office took a much less accepting stance when it comes to his various reasons for missing games. While the expectation from many in the league is that Irving has limited options, will stay in Brooklyn, and sign a new long-term deal, there are those holding out hope he spurns the team ahead of a June 29 decision deadline.
Small market teams would be in play if Kevin Durant hit the trade market
If Irving ends up taking his talents elsewhere, many around the NBA believe it would then be just a matter of time before Durant asks for his New York exit. And it is a scenario rival execs are hoping for.
On Wednesday, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that organizations around the league are “rooting” for things to go bad in Brooklyn, so the door can open to Durant ending up on the trade block. And under that scenario, Wojnarowski suggests all teams, including small-market franchises, would be in play for the 12-time All-Star.
“There are teams rooting for Irving to opt-out and walk away from the Nets, believing it would give them a chance to cobble together trade packages to acquire Durant,” Wojnarowski wrote. “As much as Durant asking out hangs over the Nets, there’s also the reality that four years on his contract will mean he has little, if any, voice on when or where he would be traded. This would be a small-market team’s dream, robbing a goliath of an MVP-level talent whose contractual circumstances would leave him little choice but to play for them.”
Kevin Durant has four years and $194 million left on his contract. He is set to make $53 million in the final year of that deal.