6:32pm: John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 disputes Haynes’ report, tweeting that the idea of the Suns meeting with Irving is “absurd” and won’t happen.
12:02pm: After ESPN reported on Wednesday that Kyrie Irving plans to meet with teams when he becomes a free agent on Friday, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report provides more details on Irving’s plans, writing that the star point guard is expected to meet with the Suns in addition to the Mavericks and possibly other teams.
Those meetings will likely take place in Los Angeles, according to Haynes, who hears from sources that the Rockets could seek an audience with Irving as well.
It’s easy to see why Irving would want to set up meetings with potential suitors, even if a return to Dallas appears to be the most likely result of his free agency. The Mavericks may not feel compelled to offer as many years or dollars as Kyrie would like if they believe they’re bidding against themselves.
Still, it’s hard to see how the Suns could emerge as a legitimate threat for Irving unless he’s willing to take a massive pay cut. With Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton owed a combined $163MM in 2023/24, Phoenix’s team salary projects to be above the second tax apron ($182.5MM), which would prevent the club from acquiring a player via sign-and-trade.
Even moving Ayton wouldn’t put the Suns in position to make a competitive sign-and-trade offer from Irving, since a hard cap would limit team salary to about $172MM. Durant, Beal, and Booker will earn a combined $130MM, which would leave just $42MM for Irving and at least 10 other players.
Irving could theoretically sign in Phoenix for the veteran’s minimum, of course, but that’s a highly unlikely outcome for a player whose exit from Brooklyn this past season was reportedly related to the Nets’ reluctance to offer him a big-money, long-term extension.
The Rockets are in better position to make Irving a significant offer, but have been linked more frequently in recent days to another free agent point guard, Fred VanVleet.
According to Haynes, the Mavericks are hoping to get a commitment from Irving early in free agency this weekend, so he can help the team recruit other free agent targets.