Getty LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the 2018 All-Star Game.
The Brooklyn Nets are “unwilling” to grant their All-NBA point guard Kyrie Irving a long-term extension, according to a report by Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. As he enters the final year of his current contract, Irving has a player option where he can either opt into the final year of his contract or opt out and become a free agent this summer. NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller notes that should Irving decide to leave, the Chicago Bulls could be a potential trading partner for the Nets in a sign-and-trade deal.
“This is based solely on the possibility of Zach LaVine going free. There seems to be some dynamic behind this, between reports from Chicago and also LaVine’s public statement that he’s always been a Lakers fan,” Miller wrote, per NBC Sports Washington.
“Whether it’s LA or not, it seems entirely possible that he’ll break through and leave the Bulls with a winning squad and a hole in their backcourt. Irving could fill this position well; The problem would just be making a deal work to get him there. It wouldn’t be easy, but Irving would be an ideal replacement for LaVine when it comes.”
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Kyrie and Kevin Durant are a package deal for Nets
Kevin Durant and Kyrie both agreed to join the Nets with the understanding that they would be linked as cornerstones of the franchise for the foreseeable future. But with reports the Nets are unwilling to offer him a long-term renewal, Irving’s future with the franchise is being called into question after just three seasons.
Durant has consistently expressed his support for Irving’s choices, which seems to confirm he still wants to play with him. In a recent report by Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, he notes that Kyrie and KD are a package deal and there’s no situation where the Nets could have one and not the other.
“KD is 33, and he finally showed real signs of basketball mortality in a first-round win over the Boston Celtics (when he shot 38.6 percent from the field). But after clearing the books to make room for him and Irving, Brooklyn would certainly like to have more than three early playoff exits,” Bailey wrote, per the Bleacher Report.
“If losing Irving means losing Durant, Brooklyn almost has to figure something out with the former, at least for another year or two. The notion that any front office would be frustrated by Irving is not surprising. It’s the other factors that make a departure seem unlikely. The Nets may just have to put up with Kyrie as long as KD supports him.”
Nets better off with Kyrie Irving than without him
While the Nets’ reported unease about Irving may be justified, the current situation needs to be viewed from a realistic perspective. And the reality is the Nets mortgaged their future to have Durant and Kyrie.
Considering the fact that they’ve already parted ways with an All-Star in James Harden, it wouldn’t do them any good to trade Irving and let KD shoulder most of the burden. Especially since he’s only three seasons away from an Achilles tear. After three seasons in which they failed to make it past the first round with the star duo, Nets fans are hungry for change, and rightly so. But the reality is that with Irving on the list, Brooklyn has a much better chance of winning a championship.
READ MORE: LeBron James associate tears up Kyrie Irving as Celtics advance to NBA Finals