Kyrie Irving‘s camp is working hard to publicly ratchet up the pressure on Nets management and ownership, pushing them to give him the longer-term deal he wants. Nets management — rightfully feeling Irving hasn’t earned that kind of commitment during his three seasons in Brooklyn — continues to resist.
Irving’s camp tried to up the pressure on Brooklyn by leaking information (this was obviously from Irving’s side) to news breakers Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ESPN Sources: If Kyrie Irving can’t reach an agreement to stay with Brooklyn, he has a list of teams he’d like them to consider on sign-and-trades, including Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs and 76ers. None of those teams have cap space to sign him without Nets’ help.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2022
Sources: Kevin Durant is monitoring the Brooklyn Nets’ situation and considering options with his future.
This now opens the path for Kyrie Irving to proceed on finding a new home via opt-in and trade.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2022
There is so much to break down here.
• Never forget, first and foremost, this is a leverage play by Irving and his camp to get what he wants, which is more years with the Nets. Brooklyn, understandably, is hesitant to hand those out to someone they don’t see as reliable.
• Irving’s best leverage has always been his tight relationship with Kevin Durant and the need for both to be there — and actually play games — to contend. The Charania report brings the idea of a frustrated Durant asking out to the table, although it has always floated around the conversation.
• If you crave NBA chaos, Durant pushing for a trade this summer would be the peak of that.
• Irving sending the Nets a list means he would want either a sign-and-trade or an opt-in and trade. None of those teams could sign him for anywhere near his max asking price. This basically rules out the idea of Irving jumping to play for the Lakers for the $6.4 million taxpayer midlevel exception — Irving may march to the beat of his own drummer, but he’s not stupid and leaving $30 million on the table.
• Not every team on Irving’s list is interested in Irving (as noted in a second Tweet by Woj). There have been mixed reports, but I was told by league sources the Clippers were not interested unless there was a Godfather offer. They like their team and chemistry right now.
• The Knicks absolutely would be in the mix for Irving and might be the favorites to land him. The Heat would be interesting. How would Irving fare in their more rigid, militaristic culture? On the court and healthy, a Heat team with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyrie Irving surrounded by shooting is scary.