Kyrie Irving and Nets ‘are deadlocked on contract talks and he could opt out of the $37million left on his deal to become a free agent’: Lakers ‘are interested’ in reuniting the All-Star with ex-teammate LeBron James
- The Athletic is reporting that Kyrie Irving and the Nets have hit an impasse in contract talks, and he could decide to opt out of his deal to become a free agent
- Irving can: opt into the final year and $37 million on his deal to play in Brooklyn next season, sign an extension with the Nets, or opt out and become a free agent
- The Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks are reportedly interested in signing Irving
- Irving played with current Lakers star LeBron James in Cleveland, but demanded a trade in 2017 because he reportedly didn’t want to be teammates anymore
Kyrie Irving’s days in Brooklyn may be numbered despite the All-Star guard’s previous statements assuring Nets fans he doesn’t ‘plan on going anywhere.’
Multiple sources have told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that contract talks between Irving and the Nets brass have ‘grown stagnant,’ and as a result, he is considering opting out of the final year and $37 million on his current deal to become a free agent.
Irving has several options available to him: He could opt into the final year of his contract with the Nets and delay free agency until the summer of 2023, he could sign an extension, or he can opt out to test the free agent market.
And if he does test his value in free agency, The Athletic reports the crosstown rival New York Knicks as well as the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers would be interested in signing Irving.
The Lakers are the most intriguing option given Irving’s history with LA star LeBron James, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. The two famously won a title together in Cleveland, coming back from a 3-1 Finals deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2016 to capture the club’s first championship, but the relationship soured soon after.
Irving ultimately asked for a trade in 2017, and the team complied, sending him to the Boston Celtics. As ESPN reported at the time, the New Jersey native no longer wanted to play alongside James, citing a desire to be a team’s focal point.
The two have remained hospitable when facing off on the court and are typically seen greeting each other with a hug.
An unceremonious departure from Brooklyn would be the third of Irving’s career, following Cleveland and, ultimately, Boston.
After two strong seasons with the Celtics, Irving walked back a pledge to re-sign with the team to ink a deal with the rival Nets, along with Kevin Durant, in July of 2019.
Since then, Celtics fans have targeted Irving, who has been quick to reciprocate.
Last year, a Celtics fan was arrested and ordered to stay away from the city’s TD Garden after throwing a water bottle at Irving at a playoff game. Irving had previously accused the city of ‘subtle racism’ and had angered fans by stomping and scraping his foot across the Celtics logo earlier in that series.
This year, as the Nets were being swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, Irving was seen flipping off fans in Boston and told one heckler to ‘suck my d***, b****.’
Irving has become a controversial figure around NBA arenas following his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The seven-time All-Star played only 29 of 82 games this season due to a local New York City mandate, for which he was ultimately given an exemption, and the team’s decision to hold him out of practice and road games, which the club reversed in late December.
Following the first-round playoff exit, Nets assistant coach and former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire admitted that Irving’s frequent absences had a significant impact on Brooklyn this year.
‘Yeah, I think it hurt us’ Stoudemire, who has since left the Nets, told ESPN in May. ‘It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have consistency enough with Kyrie to build chemistry with the group, with the team.
‘He’s playing only away games depending which city it is … can’t play in New York … therefore we had different lineups, different matchups depending on the game schedule. So it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie. So it was difficult for us to manage that so yeah, it was part of that.’
Despite the turmoil, Irving once again made it seem like he’d be staying put after the season.
‘I don’t really plan on going anywhere,’ he said following the Nets’ elimination.
Despite their reported interest, the Lakers, Knicks and Clippers would need to clear player salary in order to accommodate Irving’s deal under the NBA’s salary cap.