Contract negotiations between the Nets and Kyrie Irving regarding the point guard’s future with the team are reportedly getting “acrimonious,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The latest report comes amid ongoing rumors that a rift is growing between Irving and Brooklyn’s front office.
“Listen, people try to gain leverage. If you’re Kyrie Irving, you’re trying to go get the Nets to give you a longer-term deal with more guaranteed money than they want to give. The Nets are trying to go in the other direction—shorter deal, incentivized, because he just hasn’t been on the floor as much as they’d like the couple years,” Wojnarowski explained on ESPN’s NBA Today Friday.
“This is getting acrimonious, and I think that’s the concern when you look at not just Kyrie Irving’s future in Brooklyn, but Kevin Durant’s future and whether they can hold this thing together right now.”
Rumblings of discontent started to emerge out of Brooklyn last Wednesday, when The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Irving and the Nets at an “impasse” regarding how to proceed with contract negotiations this summer. Irving has a $36.9 million player option for the 2022–23 season and has until June 29 to opt into his deal or become a free agent.
The situation continued to escalate from there with Wojnarowski reporting the 30-year-old is reportedly eyeing the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavericks and 76ers as teams he’d like Brooklyn to consider in a possible sign-and-trade should he not reach a long-term agreement. Additionally, Charania reported that fellow Nets All-Star Kevin Durant is “considering options with his future” amid the drama with Irving.
Durant did his best to distance himself from the situation, saying on a podcast that he’s not as close to his teammate’s negotiations as some may believe.
“There’s no involvement at all,” he said when asked if he’d been involved in any capacity with Irving’s negotiations. “I mean, this is this man’s livelihood, this is much bigger than me, you know? Being a free agent is one of the most important times in your career so, can’t be swayed by anybody else and so I just, wait for the time, nothing can happen right now. I don’t think he can even make a decision on opting out until the 29th, I think, so I just kind of let things play out and see what happens. But keep the regular contact up with Kai and see what happens, man.
“It’s something that’s so much out of my control that I don’t want to be a part of it, you know what I mean? We’ll see what happens though.”
Irving has only played in 103 of 246 regular season games since joining the Nets in July 2019. He has battled with injuries since arriving in Brooklyn and missed the bulk of team’s home games last season due to his refusal to comply with New York’s vaccine mandate.
Although his availability has been spotty, Irving has been impressive for the Nets when on the court. He averaged 27.4 points per game during the 2021–22 campaign while dishing out 5.8 assists and shooting 41.8% from beyond the arc on a career-high 8.2 attempts per contest.
Nevertheless, Irving’s relationship with the front office seems to be hanging on by a thread. With the start of free agency bearing down, he’ll have just a few days to make a decision: stay in Brooklyn or make the move elsewhere.
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