Friday, August 19, 2022

Kyrie Irving rumors: Star noncommittal to Nets; Lakers reportedly only team exploring sign-and-trade options

The Brooklyn Nets-Kyrie Irving saga has taken another turn after it was recently reported that the two sides weren’t close on an agreement for a new contract. With the two sides reaching a stalemate on a new deal, the Nets have reportedly allowed Irving to discuss sign-and-trade offers with other teams that would end his time in Brooklyn, per the New York Daily News.

From the New York Daily News:

“While Nets GM Sean Marks and superstar forward Kevin Durant have yet to speak this offseason, Irving’s camp has requested and received permission from the Nets to speak with other teams about sign-and-trade packages, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.”

The Nets have been weary of offering Irving a long-term extension given his injury history. In his first season with Brooklyn a shoulder injury sidelined him for all but 20 games. Then came the absences due to personal reasons that limited him to just 54 games the following season, which ended with him sustaining an injury and being out for the Nets’ last three games against the Bucks in the second round. 

This year, he played in just 29 games as he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccination, which limited him to just road games for most of the regular season. Brooklyn isn’t confident in Irving’s commitment to ensure he can be on the floor every game, per the Daily News, and it appears as though this relationship is coming to an end.

Though nothing is official until a trade package is in place, Irving’s non-answer when asked if he still wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets while attending the BET Awards on Sunday night doesn’t exactly send signs of confidence.

With Irving seeking sign-and-trade packages to play elsewhere, his list of preferred destinations includes the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, 76ers and Mavericks. Signing Irving outright as a free agent would be incredibly difficult and essentially impossible for any of those teams who are operating above the cap this summer, but sign-and-trade possibilities exist. The Mavericks and Knicks are currently playing tug-of-war for Jalen Brunson, and the Knicks are expected to take a look at Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon if they lose out on Brunson. So the likelihood that either of those two teams takes a look at Irving is slim. 

In fact, the only team that is seriously taking a look at Irving is the Lakers, who Adrian Wojnarowski reports are the only team exploring sign-and-trade possibilities. The Lakers could try and flip Russell Westbrook in the deal to end what was a disappointing experiment last season. However, the Nets are said to not be interested in any trade package the Lakers could offer, per Wojnarowski. Understandably so, because putting two non-shooters in Westbrook and Ben Simmons next to Durant doesn’t sound like a recipe for success for the Nets.

Speaking of Durant, it’s not exactly a great sign that the Nets haven’t spoken with their franchise star since the season ended. Durant recently said that he can’t get involved in Irving’s decision, as it’s a personal decision about his livelihood. 

That may be so, but if Brooklyn can’t assemble a quality roster around Durant, the Daily News reports that he could request a trade. If that were to happen, a trade package to acquire Durant would easily be the biggest haul in recent memory, as the All-Star forward recently signed a four-year $198 million extension and is still operating at the peak of his powers when healthy. There would be no shortage of teams waiting to bring K.D. to their city, but that would be the worst-case scenario for a Nets team that had aspirations of winning a championship the day Irving and Durant decided to play in Brooklyn. 

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