Kyrie Irving – two days before his player-option deadline – announced his choice with a bizarre statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic: “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.”
I was told that the option pickup came as a total surprise to the Nets, that they found out when everybody did.
That’s revealing about how strained the relationship is between Irving and the Nets.
Irving was looking for an exit ramp and didn’t find one. The team probably expected Irving to take his full allotment of time exploring outside possibilities. Irving opting in without informing the team before the public is another sign he doesn’t feel great about staying in Brooklyn.
Despite the communication issue, this isn’t the worst outcome for the Nets. They still have Kevin Durant and Irving and therefore championship upside. Brooklyn didn’t even have to give Irving the long-term contract management wanted to avoid.
That said, Irving can sabotage a situation when he’s unhappy. See his final year with the Celtics.
Irving was distant from the Nets even in better times. With only one year left on Irving’s contract, this situation is completely combustible.
Maybe Irving and management will work out their differences. Irving is still eligible for a contract extension.
But that will start with better communication, and Irving not telling the team first of his decision to opt in shows just how damaged those lines of communication are.