For the moment, Kyrie Irving appears to have one foot out the door, as contract talks with the Nets remain at a standstill.
And if Irving is indeed on his way out, he at least has somewhere new in mind. Or several somewheres, as the case may be.
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. None of the teams vuiew acquiring Irving as a “priority,” per Wojnarowski.
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,” per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
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.
As for the Nets, a sign-and-trade would be the most likely scenario if they and Irving decided to part ways. And it’s not hard 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. He missed multiple games because of the New York City vaccine mandate, which was eventually lifted in time for the postseason.
Still, Irving and the Nets were swept from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Celtics.