Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has the ability to opt out of his contract and depart in free agency this summer, but all indications “strongly” point toward Irving remaining in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
According to Lewis, both Nets and league sources say Irving is more likely to sign a contract extension than to explore free agency.
If he wants to stay with the Nets, Kyrie could either pick up his player option and then tack additional years onto it with a contract extension, or decline the option to sign a brand-new deal with the team — it’s unclear if Lewis’ wording means the former scenario is more likely than the latter, or if he’s simply using the term “extension” as a catch-all for a new contract with the Nets.
Either way, Lewis says the sentiment around the NBA is that Irving isn’t going anywhere. The seven-time All-Star is still close friends with Kevin Durant and has a good relationship with Nets owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai. Irving spoke at the end of Brooklyn’s season about “managing this franchise together” going forward along with Durant, Tsai, and general manager Sean Marks.
Even if Irving is a good bet to stick with the Nets, it remains to be seen exactly what his next contract will look like. Lewis spoke to a pair of cap experts – ESPN’s Bobby Marks and an unnamed source – about the possible structure of Irving’s next contract and both experts suggested that an agreement that the club could have interest in negotiating incentives related to games played, given Kyrie’s history of missing time for both personal and injury reasons.
“I agree most (likely) he comes back,”the anonymous source told Lewis. “As for a contract, I’d probably try to get him back at an annual rate at what he is currently making. They could give him a contract below the max with unlikely incentives that allows him to reach the max. Unlikely incentives are capped at 15 percent of a player’s salary in a given year. So they can make his salary 15 percent less than the max, then give incentives to allow him to get the full max.”
In Marks’ view, a three-year max contract that would become fully guaranteed in year three if Kyrie plays at least 60 games in each of the first two seasons might make sense for both sides.