The NBA Finals ended just a few days ago, and the rumor mill is already churning this offseason.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Brooklyn Nets and guard Kyrie Irving are at an impasse on contract negotiations, opening the door for him to play elsewhere in the 2022-23 season. Irving has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign that he could decline to become an unrestricted free agent.
“But one of the most anticipated free-agency situations involves Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, who has a June 29 deadline on his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season,” Charania wrote. “However, multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said.”
Irving had previously stated that he wasn’t going anywhere, citing his desire to continue playing with Kevin Durant on the Nets. Now, Charania mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks as potential suitors for Irving if he does test the open market.
So, where will Kyrie play next? Let’s set the odds on his team for the 2022-23 season:
Odds for Kyrie Irving’s Next Team
- Brooklyn Nets: +100
- Los Angeles Lakers: +250
- Los Angeles Clippers: +300
- New York Knicks: +500
- The Field: +500
Brooklyn Nets: +100
Even with this report, I think that it is more likely than anything that Irving remains in Brooklyn. He could always opt in to his contract to run things back for one more season with Durant if the two sides can't come to a long-term extension.
Irving has been in and out of the lineup during his Brooklyn tenure, so it’s hard to see a team willing to sacrifice major assets to bring him in this offseason. The Nets may end up realizing they are better off giving Irving a longer contract, even if they don’t want to, than moving him in a sign-and-trade for a significantly less return.
The Durant-Irving relationship seems strong, and I can’t see it breaking up after the Nets have put all their eggs into this basket.
Los Angeles Lakers: +250
Hear me out: Kyrie Irving reunites with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook reunites with Kevin Durant.
It’s probably not going to happen, but Lakers fans certainly would love for that to come true.
Here’s how Charania broke down a potential Lakers deal for Irving:
“For the Lakers, the likely path to acquire Irving would be him opting in to facilitate a trade, because the Lakers cannot realistically clear cap space to sign him themselves, and a sign-and-trade would trigger the hard cap, thus making acquiring Irving significantly more difficult,” Charania wrote. “If Irving would opt in, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka would have to satisfy the collective bargaining agreement’s salary-matching rules, meaning if Irving’s $36.6 million was the only incoming salary, the Lakers could send anywhere from $29.3 million to $45.8 million to the Nets and/or a third team in a legal transaction.”
The Lakers could move Westbrook’s massive salary in a three-team deal, potentially a trade with the Houston Rockets (?) that would send John Wall to Brooklyn. The Lakers aren’t flush with assets, but if the Nets are backed into a corner with Irving, it’s hard to see Pelinka not making a strong push to put Irving, James and Anthony Davis together.
Los Angeles Clippers: +300
I’m not sure the Clippers want to ruin what they have going, but they could make a trade interesting with some of the mid-level contracts such as Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Norman Powell and Robert Covington.
“The Clippers’ scenario is less complicated than the Lakers, as the Clippers have a series of players making $11 million to $17 million to work with,” Charania wrote.
Los Angeles also has some intriguing young players like Terance Mann or Brandon Boston Jr. that could sweeten a potential deal for Brooklyn.
New York Knicks: +500
As BetSided’s resident Knicks fan, I’m hoping New York stays away from the Kyrie Irving experience.
However, the Knicks are likely the only team that can open up the max contract space to sign Irving outright if he decides to opt out of his deal.
“For the Knicks, the likely path to acquire Irving depends on what the Nets prioritize,” Charania wrote. “New York is even with the salary-cap line for 2022-23 so it could clear enough space to sign Irving on a maximum contract by offloading salaries such as Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kemba Walker. But the Knicks could also offer some or all of those players to the Nets or a third team in a possible sign-and-trade.”
Irving wouldn’t have to move far to play for the Knicks, but he and Durant have both trashed the organization since going to Brookklyn. It would be hard to see a scenario where Kyrie willingly plays for the Knicks, but if the money lines up, he just might.
Still, I don’t see Brooklyn letting him walk to sign with a division rival.
The Field: +500
The Field falls all the way at +500 odds, because it's hard to see two things:
First off, will Irving even want to play for another team not of his choosing? And secondly, will any contender break up its current core for the Kyrie experience?
I think the answer to both of those questions is no. Irving will end up on a contender, and likely one he decides to go to. Unless a surprise team emerges over the next two weeks, the rest of the league is pretty much out on the Kyrie business.
Find Peter Dewey’s full betting record in the NBA this season here.