But has the situation escalated past bargaining to the point Irving is actually headed elsewhere?
Shams Charania of Stadium:
On the Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving: pic.twitter.com/xphBIP8LB3
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2022
There’s an expectation that Kyrie Irving will now proceed shortly into finding a new home via an opt-in-and-trade potential situation.
I’m unsure how carefully Charania chose his words. He didn’t specify who expects Irving to proceed with an opt-in-and-trade.
But if the people involved or even people around the league truly expect Irving to leave – the impression this report gives – that’s a huge development.
Irving has a $36,934,550 player option he must decide on by June 29. Though free agency doesn’t open until the next day, backroom discussions sometimes occur early. If Irving is headed out via opt-in-and-trade, the wheels are probably well into motion.
Some key questions:
What team will get Irving?
Irving reportedly gave Brooklyn a list of teams that includes the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavericks and 76ers. He has say, because he must opt in to facilitate this deal. But the other team must want Irving and satisfy the Nets.
What will Irving’s next team send Brooklyn?
The Nets will want to be compensated for facilitating Irving’s exit, especially because their best chance of keeping Kevin Durant is convincing him they can still build a contender around him.
What will Irving’s next deal be?
If Irving signs a contract extension when traded, it could be worth up to $79,501,619 over two years ($39,750,809 annually).
However, six months after the trade, he could sign an extension worth up to between $197,034,880 and $198,560,141 (between $49,258,720 and $49,640,035 annually).*
*The exact amount depends on where the 2023-24 salary cap lands.
The smaller, immediate extension might not appease Irving. After all, he’d be leaving the Nets – who had been his preferred team – over money. Heck, that might not even be more than Brooklyn is offering.
But teams might be reluctant to trade for Irving without assurances he’d stay long-term. If Irving opts in without an extension, he’d be on an expiring contract. Even if Irving pledges to sign the larger extension in six months, the team would be risky trusting someone so flighty.
So, a lot must come together for everyone to approve an opt-in-and-trade. Very possible. Especially if that’s what Irving wants. But between all the hurdles, I still wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up staying with the Nets on a contract he’s not thrilled with.