Irving has opted in to his $36.9MM salary for next season, ending speculation that he might consider free agency, but his decision doesn’t seem to have settled anything in Brooklyn. Wojnarowski stated that rival teams will continue to monitor the Nets’ situation to see if they will consider trading Irving, either during the summer or once the season starts.
Woj also said the organization needs Irving and Kevin Durant to become team leaders heading into free agency and to help develop a plan for next season. Brooklyn has important decisions to make on a number of free agents, most notably Nic Claxton and possibly Patty Mills.
Appearing on the same show, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed that Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks won’t accept a continuation of the atmosphere that surrounded the team this season. He adds that the permissive approach the Nets have taken with Irving over the past three years factored into extension talks.
“It wasn’t just about how Kyrie treated the vaccine mandate, it was about how he treated his teammates and how Kyrie Irving treated his coaches,” Windhorst said. “So part of this renegotiation wasn’t just gonna be about a contract extension. It was gonna be about a renegotiation of the way the team operated. And, by the way, this wasn’t a Kyrie Irving issue. The team gave Irving all of this leverage as the way they operated over the past three years.”
Windhorst noted that there’s an urgency that goes beyond Irving’s message of “see you in the fall” when he announced his opt-in decision. He stressed that Irving needs to engage with management now and prove that he’s able to move beyond the “status quo” that resulted in a first-round playoff sweep.
There’s more on the Irving situation:
- In a separate clip, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps called Irving’s extension negotiations an “acrimonious process” and debated with Windhorst about whether a deal with the Lakers involving Russell Westbrook and draft compensation could eventually become an option.
- The Lakers were considered the leaders in the effort to work out a sign-and-trade for Irving, but the Mavericks, Heat and Sixers investigated their options as well, Shams Charania of The Athletic said in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show (hat tip to Clutch Points).
- Irving posted a video Tuesday with his first comments since deciding to opt in, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “This is a great moment in my spiritual path, being present enough to understand that it’s not me doing all this. At this point I’m being pushed in certain directions,” Irving said, adding, “You can’t be afraid to make mistakes, in private or out in the open. The mistakes that you do make, you’ve got to learn from them.”