Irving, 27, decided to opt out of his $21.3 million deal with the Celtics and become a free agent early last month. He also parted ways with longtime agent Jeff Wechsler within weeks of free agency, signaling his departure from Boston. The Celtics finished the year third in the Eastern Conference with a regular season record of 49–33 before falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving has long been "serious" about signing with Brooklyn this summer. The Nets cleared cap space for Irving and another max free agent by trading Allen Crabbe and his $18.5 million contract to the Hawks on draft day. Brooklyn will use the space to sign free agent forward Kevin Durant to a four-year, $164 million deal. The Nets are also expected to sign free agent center DeAndre Jordan.
Irving, a six-time All-Star, was drafted by the Cavaliers with the first-overall pick in 2011. He was named the league's Rookie of the Year that season and won an NBA title with LeBron James in 2016 before being traded to the Celtics in August 2017.
Irving averaged 23.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds for Boston during the 2018-19 season. He has career averages of 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.
The Nets finished the regular season 42–40 but were knocked out of the playoffs by the Sixers in the first round.