After weeks of speculation and countless trade-machine ideas
floating around, The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported that
the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving are at an "impasse" about his
future with the franchise.
Irving has until June 29 to decide whether to exercise his
player option that will be an expected cap figure just under $37
million for the 2022-23 season. To be clear, Irving hasn't
explicitly said that he wants out of Brooklyn, and Sean Marks has
never said that he wants to move on from the All-NBA point
Basically, Marks wants Irving to opt out oand sign a deal for
less money/average annual value for cap space to fill out the
roster. The theoretical fit of Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons
has yet to be seen, and one would imagine that the Nets would
prefer to give the trio a chance. With the return of Joe Harris
from injury and Seth Curry still under contract, Brooklyn could
still be the odds-on favorite for an NBA title next season when
they are at full strength.
However, if the impasse between the two continues, Marks may
very well opt to move on. While remaining in Brooklyn is likely the
final outcome of this saga, there are a few other destinations that
make sense for both Irving and the Nets to strike a deal.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
According to Marc Stein, Irving has had some recent contact with LeBron James
about a reunion. (It's worth mentioning that Stein's sources
told him it'd be "a stretch" to say L.A. is actively pursuing
Irving.) Also, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers
are the most significant threat to sign Irving away from the
This is an obvious hypothetical destination for Irving, as the
Lakers have a player with a similar contract who makes for a
logical financial swap. However, swapping Russell Westbrook for
Irving would not be something the Nets would entertain. Outside of
trying to force a second marriage between Westbrook and Durant, the
pairing of Westbrook and Ben Simmons would provide the least amount
of spacing that $60 million could buy.
For the Lakers to reunite Irving with LeBron, there would need
to be a third team to reroute Westbrook to. One team that seems
like a possible match for such a deal is the Indiana Pacers, who
are actively shopping both Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner.
Sending those two to Brooklyn and Westbrook to Indiana is a
possibility, but not all that attractive for the Pacers, as they
look to build around Tyrese Haliburton as their lead guard. Perhaps
if enough draft picks are attached, Indiana may be willing to
Other possible third teams include the Charlotte Hornets,
Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.
The Hornets have been mentioned due to the relationship between
Westbrook and team owner Michael Jordan, but again, LaMelo Ball
plays the same position.
Oklahoma City has been known to take on a bad contract in return
for a handful of assets, which neither L.A. nor Brooklyn really
have; plus, there's the whole reunion story where he could mentor
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
The Rockets are interesting because it could simply be a
three-player deal where each team just gets a new point guard,
landing John Wall in Brooklyn.
While it's fun to speculate about a reconciliation between
LeBron and Kyrie for another title run, this still feels highly
unlikely, and Brooklyn still seems like a better situation for
Irving than the Lakers.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
A sleeper team in the potential Kyrie sweepstakes is the Los
Angeles Clippers. This is the one team that could perhaps assemble
a better "Big Three" than the Nets. Irving alongside Paul George
and Kawhi Leonard might instantly become the best trio in the
A package of Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac,
plus draft compensation could do the trick. If the Clippers do not
want to part with Zubac, they could possibly package Reggie
Jackson, Robert Covington, Powell and picks.
If the Clippers are able to assemble a lineup of Irving, George,
Leonard, Luke Kennard, Morris/Covington, Terance Mann and/or Zubac,
this would be a top-five rotation in the league at worst.
Brooklyn taking back Jackson, Powell and Covington would be a
nice return of players to fit around Durant, but it still fails to
replace the talent of Kyrie. If the Clippers, who also lack draft
capital, can put together an enticing enough package to land
Irving, this would be an optimal landing spot for him.
NEW YORK KNICKS
The Knicks have been linked to almost every available player via
trade or free agency. They have longed for a superstar since the
Carmelo Anthony era, and it just so happens that a point guard is
also a position of need for the historic franchise.
In order for this to work financially, the Knicks would have to
part with some combination of Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, Nerlens
Noel, Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose. The Nets would do well to
come away with Noel, Walker and Burks in terms of roster fit, but
that return is hardly enough talent-wise for Brooklyn. Including
the No. 11 pick in this year's draft — plus one of Immanuel
Quickley, Obi Toppin or Cam Reddish — may be required.
Kyrie staying in New York and swapping local teams may make some
sense on paper, but it would be a step backwards in pursuit of a
championship for Irving. At this point in his career, championship
rings appear to be the goal for Irving, and he'd be better off
working it out with the Nets than making a move to the Knicks.
A team with a long shot to land Irving would be the Washington
Wizards, but the franchise has made it known that it is going to do
whatever it takes to make Bradley Beal happy. Wizards president
Tommy Sheppard mentioned using the No. 10 pick in this year's draft
to acquire a veteran point guard.
“I don’t see a rookie starting at point guard for us next
season. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see that," Sheppard said
in an April interview with Team 980 hosts Chris Russell and Pete
Medhurst. "I think free agency or trade is probably the right route
It has been reported that the Wizards have
inquired about Dejounte Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Malcolm
Brogdon, so clearly they are kicking the tires on notable point
guards. While Brogdon may be the better fit next to Beal, the
opportunity to add a talent like Irving doesn't come around often.
Sheppard has talked about swinging for the fences and pouncing on
opportunities when they present themselves.
"I can’t say this enough: you can’t be afraid to take big swings
when you get an opportunity... Some things present themselves to
you," Sheppard said in February. "Jerry West told me when I got
this job, ‘Don’t ever be afraid to take a big swing.’ There’s only
going to be so many opportunities to get talent and to get talent,
you have to give up talent."
The Wizards could send Kristaps Porzingis, No. 10 and either
Corey Kispert or Deni Avdija to the Nets. Brooklyn could then use
the 10th pick to acquire a veteran point guard
This deal, of course, relies upon Beal opting into his player
option rather than the current reports that he has declined his option to pursue
unrestricted free agency. The Wizards have not been afraid to
swing for a big trade, and they may have the ammo to do just that
Ultimately the best possible destination for Irving is the Nets.
Durant hand-picked him as his running mate for another
championship, and it is in the best interest of all parties
involved to figure this out.
As mentioned above, the trio of Kyrie, KD and Simmons has yet to
take the floor together; the Nets and the NBA world need to see how
that would play out. Kyrie can still get paid, the Nets can still
be contenders and in the end, they would keep Durant happy, which
should be priority No. 1 for Marks.
Trade speculation is fun, but it is often merely speculation in
the end. Kyrie is a Brooklyn Net with a player option that would
net the highest possible payday he could receive for the 2022-23
season, as it is unlikely anyone offers him a long-term max
Maybe Irving and Marks find an acceptable restructure of his
contract that is more incentive-laden, or maybe he opts in for the
full amount. At the end of the day, there is a next-to-zero chance
the Nets get a package in return for Kyrie that matches his talent
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