The Kyrie Irving saga in Brooklyn roars on into the offseason. The superstar point guard played just 29 games last season while refusing to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, disqualifying him from playing home games in New York City.
The 30-year-old guard is unlikely to exercise his $37 million player option for 2022-23, making him a free agent. The legal-tampering phase of the NBA’s free agency begins this upcoming Thursday, June 30.
Last week, Irving and the Nets hit an impasse in negotiations, leaving the franchise and the seven-time All-Star in uncertainty. As of this morning, it appears Irving’s brief tenure in Brooklyn is coming to a disappointing close.
The New York Daily News is reporting that Irving has received permission to explore new deals and destinations via sign-and-trade. The NBA salary cap is extremely complex with intersecting components like max deals, super-max contracts, trade exceptions and Bird rights.
Because of certain restrictions – to benefit both the player and the team – Irving must sign a new contract with the exception that Brooklyn deals him to the team of his choosing. With permission to determine what team is able to make a deal, it means the former MVP is as good as gone.
Players don’t seek authorization and team’s don’t consent without an understanding that the relationship is over. Irving’s next task includes finding a financially suitable franchise with the ability to return assets to Brooklyn.
Kyrie Irving’s Decision Sends Shockwaves – Regardless of Destination
The attention-seeker reportedly has six teams in mind: the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, 76ers and Mavericks.
Joining forces with LeBron James for the second time in his career might seem enticing. But the likelihood of such a deal is minimal based on Los Angeles’ desolate roster situation. The only financially suitable deal sends either Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook back to Brooklyn. However, losing Davis is a non-starter for the Lakers, and a Westbrook-Kevin Durant reunion is unlikely.
The Clippers and 76ers don’t provide much of a personality fit for Irving, either. Irving’s notoriety doesn’t mesh with the reserved nature of Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles, and the superstar’s rift with former teammate James Harden eliminates Philadelphia from consideration.
That leaves Miami, Dallas and the New York Knicks as the three likely suitors for his services. The question remains if Kyrie actually shows up to play wherever he lands.