Now comes the news that Irving will meet with the Nets at the start of free agency, and a deal likely comes fast, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Nets want Irving, but he also is the bait to help lure Kevin Durant to Brooklyn. While the Durant and Irving have been linked together for a while (first with the Knicks, then with the Nets), Durant has a lot of options on his plate. He could stay with the Warriors, he could team up with Kawhi Leonard and form a powerhouse team with the Clippers or Knicks. The Nets want to move quickly in signing Irving to get their foot in the door, even if Durant says he can’t be recruited.
To sign Irving in Brooklyn, the Nets will either rescind their qualifying offer to D'Angelo Russell, making him a free agent, or help him get to the team he wants via a sign-and-trade.
There is a long line of suitors for Russell, whose game took a step forward last season as he led the Nets to the playoffs. The Minnesota Timberwolves are one possible destination. Also, the Lakers are still in that mix.
The Lakers top target is Kawhi Leonard, but if that falls through (and nobody really knows what Leonard is thinking), Russell makes sense as a secondary guy, one who can be a ball handler and run the offense so LeBron doesn’t have to carry all of that load. If the Lakers land Russell they would have some extra cap space to add a shooter to the roster, before they turn to guys willing to take minimum contracts.