The Nets are faced with a balancing act as they attempt to re-sign or extend Kyrie Irving, Adrian Wojnarowski said today during a TV appearance on SportsCenter, as well as in an Insider-only story for ESPN.com.
As Wojnarowski explains, the Nets want to remain disciplined in their contract discussions with Irving, preferring to negotiate a shorter-term deal rather than a long-term contract, in large part due to the star guard’s availability issues in recent years. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported something similar earlier in the week.
However, the team also doesn’t want to run the risk of “alienating” star forward Kevin Durant, who is close with Irving and may become disenchanted with his situation in Brooklyn if his good friend departs in free agency. Wojnarowski says there are teams rooting for Irving to leave the Nets because they feel it could open the door for them to pursue Durant.
Although Durant hasn’t shown any signs of frustration with his situation, Wojnarowski hears from sources that chatter from rival agents and players about KD’s eagerness to talk to free agents hasn’t existed so far this summer like it has in past offseasons. Sources also suggest to ESPN that the drama surrounding Irving has made it more difficult for the Nets to court and retain role players.
Brian Lewis of The New York Post confirms that the length of a new Irving deal appears to be more of a sticking point than the salary, writing that the two sides are trying to find a “happy medium.”
According to Wojnarowski, getting a deal done is “the preference for everyone,” including the Nets, Irving, and Durant, and Lewis says that most people around the league still believe a return to Brooklyn is the most likely outcome for Kyrie. It’s just a matter of the Nets and the seven-time All-Star finding common ground in their contract talks.