Mannix and Beck break down the news involving Kyrie Irving opting into his player option with the Nets next season and what it could mean for the recent rumors surrounding Kevin Durant’s possible departure from the team.
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Chris Mannix: Well, as you speak Howard, we have another development to this story. Kyrie Irving, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who I believe had this first, he’s opting into his $37 million player option for next season. The quote that Irving gave, according to Shams, “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in, see you in the Fall.” I don’t know what any of those words mean or that sentence. So, all right, there we go, Howard! We have Kyrie Irving opting into his contract for one more season.
All our notes are out the window and we’re now reacting to this.
Howard Beck: Oh no, no, I still got plenty of notes that are relevant.
Chris Mannix: Yeah, like you get Kyrie back for next season. You're paying him a lot of money, but it's just for one year, that's it. So you can see how this all plays out. Look, I've been vocal about this, Howard, and I know you disagree with me to an extent, but I've been vocal that if the Nets just brought the band back together, that's a championship team. It is. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Nic Claxton, Bruce Brown if he comes back. Like that's seven guys that are really good. Two of which you can mark as two of the best scorers in the entire NBA.
That’s a team that’s got shooting, it needs athleticism, needs frontcourt help, I’ll give you that. But that’s a team that goes into next season as a potential title contender. So if you’re Brooklyn, you gotta feel pretty good about this. And look, you know, clearly there has been some damage done between Kyrie and the Nets. No question about that, but if they win, does that not resolve all issues? And if they win this year and there is no COVID issue that keeps Kyrie outta the lineup in the same way it did this past season, Nets can still sign him to a contract. …
Now, alternatively, it could be a disaster. I mean, Kyrie going into a season as a free agent to be, no certainty there. You can see where things might fall apart, but Kyrie coming back rejoining a healthy Kevin Durant, rejoining a healthy Joe Harris, Ben Simmons playing for the first time in over a year. I mean, I interpret this decision by Kyrie as a big win for Brooklyn. They get their guy back and they don’t have to commit massive long-term money to him.
Howard Beck: Um, yes, all of that, absolutely. It is a huge win for Brooklyn. On top of that, let’s go back to something I said in the opening about posturing, about positioning, about spin and everything else. In my notes, my extensive notes. By the way, I think I might just spend the rest of this podcast just laughing out loud. In my notes, one of the things I had noted was that the Nets saying to Kyrie, as was reported by the New York Daily News as of earlier today, Hey, you know what? Go ahead. You have permission, go seek sign-and-trades. You know what Kyrie Irving likely found out there when he went and sought those sign-and-trades that they’re not there, that not that many teams want to take a flyer on Kyrie or that wanna acquire him in a sign-and-trade in which he’s gonna be asking for four years at or near the max. And then taking on all that comes with him. How many teams out there? Very, very few.
I was asking a couple people of this earlier today, and aside from the Lakers who have you know, look, they’re desperate, they’re desperate to do anything right now. The only other team that somebody suggested to me might have some interest in Kyrie and could handle all that comes with him was the Miami Heat.
Chris Mannix: Yeah, I heard that too.
Howard Beck: But Chris, this is the logical endpoint of what just happened over the course of not just today, but the last several days. Kyrie wants more than they want to give him. Kyrie’s pissed off that they don’t want to commit as much as he thinks he should be committed to. Well, then fine. Somebody else will give it to me. Go ahead, Kyrie, go see who will commit to you. Go see who out there wants to acquire you in a sign-and-trade with all that comes with it. Not to mention having a hard cap by doing it. There’s nothing out there, Chris. That’s the bottom line, Kyrie decided to opt in because he realized the market for him does not exist. At least not at the level that he wants it. Even if he were a free agent tomorrow. I’m telling you, there are not teams knocking down his door. This is not, by the way, me throwing shade.
This is just the reality, as talented as he is, as gifted as he is, and we have all seen him at his best and he’s an incredible player. It’s all the other stuff that comes with him. It’s everything that the rest of the league has seen, not just in the last couple years with Brooklyn, but over the last five years, going all the way back to forcing his way out of Cleveland at a time that they were on a roll of three straight Finals, and he’s with the greatest player of his generation, LeBron James, forcing his way out, ending up in Boston, pledging that he’s gonna spend the rest of his career in Boston, leaving Boston anyway, and then everything he did in Brooklyn. That has a cost. That has a cost and the cost for Kyrie is that the market isn’t there right now because teams are looking at him and going, man, great talent, can’t trust him. That’s the bottom line.
And that is the lesson of all this. And I will just say, I think that him opting in, O.K., there is a commitment now contractually to the Nets, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t trade him? Like the idea of the extension could still be on the table. I think you can extend all the way up until the eve of training camp or some date in October. So they could still have extension talks off of the one-year deal that he’s now opted into. I wouldn’t expect that, but it’s not impossible, but for the moment, I think crisis averted, but they could still trade him. If somebody can absorb his $37 million and has a package that the Nets want in return, I wouldn’t rule that out either.
Chris Mannix: No, I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out, I guess. But you know, taking Kyrie on a one-year contract and probably not looking to give up much in return, that seems a little … I can’t get my head wrapped around that. I feel like this is going to be a year where we see what we have with Kyrie and Kevin Durant. I mean, they have never once, Howard, played a full season together. They haven’t, you know? Kevin missed the entire full first year, last year you’ve got Kyrie in and outta the lineup, COVID issues.
Presumably, this is the year everybody’s back. Everybody’s healthy. Ben Simmons gives them defensive versatility. There’s a pathway here, Howard, to see this team live up to its lofty expectations. There is. So I’m curious to see, how it all plays out. I still think they have the ability to win a championship next year.