Kyrie Irving leaves $1,668,172-$5,845,172 on the table by waiving trade kicker

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Kyrie Irving wanted a trade from the Cavaliers.

He put his money where his mouth is to facilitate a deal to the Celtics.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Irving’s trade bonus could have been worth 15% of his remaining salary before a 2019 player option – up to $5,845,172. But that amount would have rendered the trade – Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick – illegal under the NBA’s salary-matching trade rules. Boston could take back only its outgoing salary plus $5 million, and Irving’s base salary left just $834,086 to spare.

That meant the maximum trade bonus Irving could have received in this deal was $1,668,172 – $834,086 applied to both seasons before his player option.

The Celtics could have sent out more salary, allowing Irving to earn a higher portion of his kicker, which would have been paid by the Cavs by rule. But Boston is short on filler salary – especially because Marcus Morris can’t be aggregated in a trade until Sept. 7, and Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis can’t be traded at all until Dec. 15. Including anyone else would have meant the Celtics surrendering even more value – and they already gave up so much. Maybe Cleveland would have balked at paying extra to Irving, who already threw them for a loop with his trade request.

But the possibility of Irving pocketing a trade bonus was there. Whether $1,668,172 is a lot to someone earning $18,868,626 this season is in the eye of the beholder.

That Irving didn’t maximize his income by pushing for a different trade that could’ve allowed him to receive more of his trade bonus or even demanding the maximum amount allowable in this trade speaks to his desire to leave Cleveland. It also says something about his eagerness to join the Celtics, which should make them a little more confident about re-signing him in two years.

Though Irving signing an extension is almost certainly unrealistic, these little signals matter as his free agency looms.