Nobody could’ve guessed Kyrie Irving would remain a member of the Brooklyn Nets at the start of the 2022 offseason.
With a decision about picking up his contract option or not for next season looming, all signs were pointing toward Irving declining his $36 million contract for next year and testing the free agency market.
To no surprise, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were linked to Irving following the 2021-2022 season. As Irving and James once dominated the NBA together, a reunion could put the Lakers back on the right path to becoming NBA contenders once again.
But in a shocking move, Irving decided to fulfill his commitment to the Nets and picked up his option for next year. It’s unclear how far discussions between Irving, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles went regarding a possible sign-and-trade before the star guard committed to Brooklyn contractually.
While trading Irving is still an option for the Nets, there hasn’t been any movement toward sending Irving packing. And as training camp inches closer, it seems the Nets will hold onto Irving for the time being. And the veteran All-Star reportedly remains invested in Brooklyn for next season.
“I think Kyrie Irving is invested in being a Brooklyn Net next year,” said ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “Obviously, there was some turmoil with his contract extension not happening. He realizes his best path moving forward to get the contract he wants in Brooklyn or elsewhere is to have a very good season.”
The Nets face much uncertainty going into the 2022-2023 season. Not only are they unsure how Ben Simmons will look in their lineup after taking an entire season off, but the team’s star forward, Kevin Durant, wants to be moved.
While there were question marks surrounding Irving throughout the 2021-2022 season and the offseason, Brooklyn might feel comfortable for the time being as the star guard seems to be committed to his team, at least for next year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.