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Free agency; Player Option Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets; What comes next? Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, news, updates

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After weeks of speculation about his future, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving has opted into his $36.5 million ($A53M) player option for the 2022-23 NBA season.

It means Irving will still be a Nets player … at least for now.

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The move effectively pockets the $36 million over 30 years that it otherwise would not have been guaranteed to earn on the open market.

And it means Irving will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season and can sign anywhere he wants.

So what does it mean for Brooklyn, its stars, and what could come next? We have covered the state of the game below.

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WHY WAS IT SURRENDERED?

To be honest, there just wasn’t a market for the seven-time All-Star, who has consistently been embroiled in drama throughout his career, including being ineligible to play in home games in New York last night. last season due to his vaccination status.

Irving put a list of teams to the Nets he was interested in joining in a sign and trade, but the Lakers were ultimately the only genuine suitor before anything happened.

Since the Nets aren’t willing to give Irving a long-term extension, it was essentially a take the $37 million or leave it scenario, where he now likely has more options at the end of next season.

“The Brooklyn Nets really had a lot of power in this situation, unless Kyrie didn’t want to opt in and go and sign the midlevel somewhere and lose $35 million in one season,” former NBA coach Avery Johnson said. in First take.

“It’s about who has the influence and power. And in this situation his market was very, very small.

Kyrie Irving has opted out of the final year of his contractSource: AFP

“Even for a team like the Lakers… they have one more year with Russell Westbrook and then they’ll have a lot more flexibility, and also Kyrie if he can play in 85-90% of the games, which historically he hasn’t.

“It will have more of a market, and some of the teams that are waiting on the sidelines probably thought you can get it for a better price on a shorter contract.”

There was even talk that Irving was willing to opt out of his contract with the Nets and take a seismic pay cut to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers.

In the end his options were to play for the Lakers for $6 million or return to the Nets for $36 million.

“They (Brooklyn) called his bluff. It was a game of chicken and he blinked,” Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard said on Fox Sports Radio.

(The Nets’ position was) ‘You think we’re going to cave in and give you the maximum extension and we think you’re going to cave in and play for this $36 million.’ And he collapsed.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE NETS?

Irving’s option puts the Nets above the projected 2022-23 luxury and thus limits their flexibility to make other roster moves.

It comes despite the fact that the Nets only have seven players under contract for next season: Irving, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, with Patty Mills opting for her option to become in free agent. .

Along with Mills, Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Claxton are free agents.

And yet, even with that many free agents, Irving’s option limits the team to using a $6.4 million taxpayer midlevel exception to add outside free agents.

It’s also worth noting that Brooklyn’s four centers are out of contract, while 3-and-D role players are needed.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton named Nicholas Batum, Otto Porter and TJ Warren as potential options to target with his midlevel exception.

At his season-ending news conference, Nets general manager Sean Marks admitted the team can’t afford to “go backwards” with the same roster.

“You would love people who are versatile,” Marks said, according to CBS Sports.

“You would love people who can play multiple positions and so on. I think we look at some of the teams that are playing right now, I mean, they have 6 to 10 point guards out there. They have, you know, Golden State has a, I don’t want to take down Draymond (Green), but what is he, a 6-7 center?

“We have prided ourselves in the past on finding players with a chip on their shoulders, with resilience, with something to prove,” he said. “We’re going to have to go back to that. We will have to look at development a little more again, look more for the right characteristics of a player who fits here.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DURANT AND SIMMONS?

Just four months ago, the Nets and Sixers shook up the NBA landscape with the successful trade of Simmons for James Harden.

Despite losing Harden, the Nets were still thinking of winning now by putting Simmons (signed through 2024/2025) alongside Irving and Durant (signed through 2024/2025) to form a revamped superteam, albeit a trio that has yet to shared the field together.

Simmons’ main focus right now will be simply getting back to health and letting his form on the court do the talking after coming under intense scrutiny over the past year.

But we also know that amid speculation about Irving’s future over the past week, there was talk that Durant was also weighing his options in a possible sign that without Irving, the two-time NBA champion might not want to stick with him. the Nets.

After all, when Durant joined Irving on the Nets in late 2019, it would have been in hopes of attracting more stars, not losing them.

But the Nets are now stuck in a state of flux after falling just short of the title in each of the past two seasons with arguably the most talented roster in the league.

And suddenly they risk losing all three Hardens, Irving and Durant in the space of 18 months and going back to a rebuild, even though the latter would get a big return package in a trade.

“Right now it’s calm, the storm is probably still out at sea and hasn’t arrived yet,” Bobby Marks told ESPN.

Ben Simmons has yet to play for the Nets.Source: Getty Images

“I think as long as Irving is on this list, I don’t see him (Durant) asking to leave right now. I think he certainly wants to know what the future is going to be, if it’s going to be just Kyrie Irving and let him walk next offseason. I think that’s probably the biggest question Durant will have.

“I think eventually there will be a meeting of the minds with everyone here. From the property to the main office of Irving and Durant. To get them into the room and work, ‘what are we trying to accomplish here?’

“We did the Simmons trade for James Harden. On paper at least, this is a potentially championship-worthy roster when healthy. (Ask) ‘Do we all want to throw it out the window and rebuild here?’

“I think that’s what’s going to have to happen in the next couple of weeks here, just getting everyone on the same page.”

As Avery Johnson pointed out, Durant hasn’t gotten Irving to pay him back since joining him.

“Durant invested a lot in this relationship. He invested a lot in terms of sweat and capital in terms of what he’s done on the court,” he said.

“He has been there for this team. But his Robin to Durant’s Batman hasn’t been there consistently enough – they’ve only played in basically two games together. That’s not what Durant signed up for.”

WHY AN IRVING EXCHANGE IS STILL ON THE CARDS

Don’t rule out an Irving move just yet.

The superstar shooting guard could still be traded, with the Athletic’s Shams Charania reporting that “several teams” are expected to continue to pursue Irving through the trade.

Among those teams could be the Los Angeles Lakers, as talk of a trade for Russell Westbrook will seemingly never go away. But would it make sense for Brooklyn?

Charlotte is another team touted as a landing spot to help him get out of Gordon Hayward’s hefty salary.

The Sixers were surprisingly on Irving’s list of teams he’d be willing to join via sign-and-trade despite Harden’s move to the Eastern Conference rival. They have an obvious asset to make a deal happen in Tobias Harris, but bringing Harden and Irving together would seem peculiar.

While I’d expect Irving to return to the Nets as the franchise gears up for one last run with him and Durant, the NBA is an unpredictable landscape.

“For now, I think we’re in a holding pattern as far as what the future is,” Marks said.

“He could still be traded, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause. It opens up the prospect for all 29 teams if there is a trade for Brooklyn.

“If you’re a team, what are you really willing to give up a year for Irving? Are you going to give up two role players to get it? Possibly.

“But we return to the same question. Why would Brooklyn get extra salary when she might trigger a Durant decision?

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