Kyrie Irving is coming off a rough 2021-22 NBA season with the Brooklyn Nets.
The 30-year-old played in just 29 outings total for the year and couldn’t stop his squad from becoming the only one to get swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
Complicating matters further is the fact that Irving has a $36.5 million player option he can pick up for next season, but is then set to become an unrestricted free agent. Thus far, he and the Nets have been unable to come to terms on a new extension.
On Wednesday, two fascinating reports regarding Irving’s future emerged.
The first came from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
REPORT: The Los Angeles Lakers are considered “the most significant threat” to land Kyrie Irving if he leaves the Nets.
Wow, wow, wow.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 22, 2022
The second came from NBA insider Marc Stein.
“There are credible rumblings in circulation that Irving, for starters, has indeed had some recent contact with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, his former Cleveland teammate, to presumably discuss a potential reunion in Hollywood,” he wrote.
“I’m told it would be a stretch, though, to suggest that the Lakers are currently pursuing Irving.”
That’s big. Obviously Stein hedged there at the end, but the fact that James and Irving are having meetings regarding a possible team-up is huge. Particularly given Irving’s perilous status in Brooklyn right now.
James and Irving obviously have a complex relationship with a lot of history. At times it has looked very frosty from the outside. Then again, when James started posting conspiracy theories in Irving’s defense on social media, things seemed much warmer.
Whether they’re tight at the moment or not, clearly James and Irving are not against the idea of teaming up once more. And clearly the Lakers are open to it, since they kicked the tires on this early last season.
A lot of what will happen to Irving depends on Kevin Durant. The Nets are hesitant to pay Irving big money when he has failed to suit up for more than 50 percent of the team’s games over the past three years.
That said, they will if Durant demands it. Presently, it doesn’t appear as though he has.
The Nets, right now, seem to want Irving on a short deal with contingencies in place. They’re fine with giving him a raise, but they also want to be protected in case he acts out.
If Irving decides to force a move to L.A., he would have to take a $30 million pay cut. That’s a lot. But he’s also the same guy who cost himself millions in NBA paychecks and sponsorship deals by refusing to get vaccinated last season. Money isn’t the end all be all for him.
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 22, 2022
This is a fascinating saga.
Where will Irving ultimately end up when it’s all said and done?
Time will tell.
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.