Nets star Kevin Durant is “monitoring” the team’s ongoing contract negotiations with Kyrie Irving and considering his options, which may or may not include Brooklyn, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Durant’s uncertainty opens the door for the often unpredictable Irving to seek sign-and-trade arrangements, Charania added.
While a lot of this could be considered a negotiation tactic by Irving’s camp, there is some seriousness and perhaps urgency given Durant’s reported stance. That said, multiple reports have suggested the Nets are confident Irving, Durant and Ben Simmons will all be in training camp this fall.
It is not outside the realm of possibility, however, that the Nets would make some moves in the event they can’t come to terms with Irving, or for that matter, Durant. This is the same organization that shipped James Harden to the 76ers in exchange for Simmons and others at the trade deadline.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Irving has already offered the Nets a list of preferred destinations in the event a sign-and-trade becomes necessary. Wojnarowski listed those teams as the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavericks and 76ers.
None of those teams have the cap space to sign Irving outright, meaning a sign-and-trade would be Irving’s only path to any of them, Wojnarowski added.
Durant, 33, averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 55 games this past season, though the Nets were forced to make the playoffs via the play-in tournament and were swept by the Celtics in the first round.
As we relayed, contract talks between the Nets and Irving have stalled, leading the rumors that he may want to move on.
Irving must decide whether to pick up his $36.9 million player option by June 29, and talks on his future in Brooklyn “have gone stagnant,” Charania wrote.
This is a far cry from the end of the season, when Irving told reporters he has no plans to go anywhere. Now, the Nets and Irving have “serious work” ahead of them to reach an agreement, per Charania.
Should Irving and the Nets fail to reach an agreement, the Lakers, Clippers and Knicks would be suitors, Charania wrote, with the Clippers and Knicks perhaps being the most likely possibilities.
The Lakers, on the other hand, would have to orchestrate a sign-and-trade because of massive salary-cap restrictions. Minus Anthony Davis, it’s hard to envision LA having the assets the Nets would seek in return.
“For the Lakers, the likely path to acquire Irving would be him opting in to facilitate a trade, because the Lakers cannot realistically clear cap space to sign him themselves, and a sign-and-trade would trigger the hard cap, thus making acquiring Irving significantly more difficult,” Charania wrote.
One path for the Lakers would to be to get a third team involved, of course, but GM Rob Pelinka would have to get particularly creative to land a high-riced talent such as Irving.
As for the Nets, a sign-and-trade would be the most likely scenario if they and Irving decided to part ways. But it’s easy to believe Irving could be on his way out after listening to GM Sean Marks as the team entered an offseason of negotiations.
“It’d be unfair for me to comment on how it looks with us and Kyrie, because to be quite frank he has some decisions to make on his own. So he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player option,” Marks said in May, via the New York Post’s Brian Lewis. “We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available.”
Marks didn’t mention Irving by name, but said that it is all about being a team player.
“You want people here to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Marks said. “It’s a team sports team game. It’s not individuals. We want people to be here for the right reasons, and buy into their roles, find their roles, high-character guys.
“We want to avoid the drama, we want to avoid the distractions. These last couple years here, whether it was expectation set on the team or some of the outside circumstances that were going on in the world, they affected our guys — both individually and as a group — really poorly, unfortunately.”
Irving, 30, averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 29 games this past season.