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Friday, July 19, 2024
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Could Nets’ Kyrie Irving Stalemate Alienate Kevin Durant?

  • The Nets prefer to give Irving a short-term deal with incentives.
  • Irving wants a long-term contract similar to co-star and friend Kevin Durant.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency set to begin in just over a week, the Nets and Kyrie Irving are reportedly at a potentially dangerous stalemate.

The Nets prefer to give Irving — who played only 29 games last season due his unvaccinated status — a short-term deal with incentives, but the seven-time All-Star wants a long-term contract similar to co-star and friend Kevin Durant — who’s on the books until 2026. 

Considering the duo’s bond — Durant is widely acknowledged to have joined Brooklyn to play with Irving — any false moves from GM Sean Marks could see the Nets lose both stars, a crushing blow for a team that mortgaged its future in search of its first title.

  • The 30-year-old Irving is eligible for a five-year, $245M contract if he opts out. 
  • He’s missed more regular-season games than he’s played (113-103) in three seasons in Brooklyn.
  • Irving’s $37M option would give the Nets the NBA’s third-highest payroll next year.
  • They’ve won just a single playoff series since 2019.

Irving has reportedly received interest from the Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks, but all three teams would need to shed salary to match anything close to his player option.

Ironically, Kyrie actually played more games than both Durant and former Net James Harden — while the latter’s replacement, Ben Simmons, never suited up for Brooklyn.

The Nets are essentially a step away from a shocking rebuild, but reality hasn’t hit oddsmakers yet — Brooklyn still has the fourth-best odds (+650) to win the Finals next season.

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