When the Brooklyn Nets added Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in 2019 they did so with visions of a dynasty.
Three years later, not only have they failed to win a single championship, but they were also the only team swept from the first round of the NBA playoffs this past season.
Irving has one year remaining on his deal – a player option for $36.5 million. Given that he is coming off a season where he played in just 29 outings because he refused to get vaccinated, the Nets are reluctant to reward him with a new massive contract.
Over the course of his three-year run in Brooklyn, Irving has suited up for less than half of the Nets’ games.
According to Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report, the decision regarding Irving’s future will ultimately fall on Durant.
“So that is a literal multimillion dollar question here, not only in the next week as we figure out what Kyrie’s going to do with that player option, but moving forward because they just don’t know if that is a dynamic duo that will hold long-term,” he wrote.
“They want to get a clear answer from Kevin. And we’ve talked about it for months: Everything in that Brooklyn organization revolves around Kevin Durant. If KD wants Kyrie back, he’ll be back. If KD signs off on ‘eh, I don’t know if it can work, I don’t know if I can trust him out there every night,’ then Kyrie may be elsewhere.”
Based on that, it would seem clear that Irving will stay in Brooklyn. After all, Durant has expressed nothing but positivity about him to date.
That said, during a recent appearance on SportsCenter, NBA insider Nick Friedell seemed to suggest that things weren’t entirely as they appeared.
“At every turn publicly, [Kevin Durant] has been there to support [Kyrie Irving], to say we need Kyrie, to say Kyrie can win a title with me here in Brooklyn,” he said (via SB Nation). “But I can tell you, I’ve been talking to people in the organization the last couple of weeks, when they finally sit down and talk to Kevin throughout the summer, they are trying to figure out if Kevin saw what everybody else saw. …
“The reason that whole season got sidetracked was because they couldn’t count on Kyrie, and they didn’t know if he was going to be out there. And the issue with Kevin is, he wants to win badly, he wants to be loyal to his friend. But I’ve been told that relationship, while very close, isn’t always as close as it appears to be.”
While Durant has been outwardly supportive of Irving over the past year, he has made it clear that he wished his teammate would have played more in 2021-22. And that seems to be supported by tweets on his most recent alleged burner account.
This is shaping up to be a big offseason for Brooklyn. What the Nets ultimately opt to do as it pertains to Irving will have massive ramifications for many years to come.
Damn KAT. https://t.co/0iWC7pSVvl
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 22, 2022
Will the franchise deem Irving “worth it” despite all the headaches that accompany him and retain him?
Or will the Nets move on?
An answer should emerge in the coming days and weeks.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.