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Kyrie Irving may be on his way out

Superstar point guard reportedly at an 'impasse' with Nets

June 21, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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The Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving could be parting ways very soon.

According to multiple reports, the superstar point guard and the franchise he joined three summers ago are at an “impasse” in negotiations regarding Irving’s potential contract extension.

Toward the end of this month, Irving is expected to opt out of his $37 million player option and test free agency despite indicating after this past season that he wanted nothing more than to be a Net for the next five years.

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“I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” Irving intimated after the Nets were swept in four games by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs.

“When I say I’m here with (Kevin Durant), I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside (Nets owner) Joe (Tsai) and (general manager) Sean (Marks).”

It was Marks who put this alleged dream team together in 2019, luring Durant and Irving to Brooklyn to help the Nets win their first-ever NBA title.

After Durant sat out that initial campaign while recovering from an Achilles injury, Irving participated in just 20 contests due to injury before sitting out the league’s 2020 restart at the NBA’s bubble site in Florida.

With Durant and Irving together the next season, the Nets managed to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals before bowing out in a dramatic Game 7 loss to eventual NBA champion Milwaukee at Barclays Center.

Irving played 54 games during that campaign, but also took an unexpected two-week hiatus from the team while dealing with personal issues. He rolled his ankle in Game 4 of the series with the Bucks and never returned.

Last season, the second straight year in which Brooklyn was touted as an NBA Finals favorite, Irving drew both criticism and support for his decision not to get vaccinated.

Nets general manager Sean Marks and the organization are wavering on their desite to bring Kyrie Irving back for the 2022-23 campaign. AP Photo by Corey Sipkin

While no one can question his personal decision, the move may have pushed James Harden, acquired during the 2020-21 campaign, to force a trade to Philadelphia after the Nets went 3-14 while Durant recovered from a knee ailment and

Irving still wasn’t available for home games.

New York City COVID-19 mandates prevented him from playing in Brooklyn until March, but Irving averaged 27.4 points over 29 contests before the Nets were run over the Celtics.

Despite his apparent willingness to come back to Brooklyn, the Nets made it clear last month that Irving would have to be more team-oriented and ready to play if he was to ink a $245 million pact that would keep him here until 2028.

“We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be a part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball and be available,” Marks said. “And that goes not only for Kyrie, but everyone here,”

But it was directed at Irving, who has remained mum on the issue while a Daily News report later in May indicated that the team was “unwilling” to sign him to a long-term deal.

“We have not had a conversation yet,” Marks said in a televised interview. “So I look forward to getting in a room with him and Joe and his team, and we will. We’ll see what it looks like for Kyrie moving forward here, and what he needs from us and so forth.

“We haven’t had those conversations with Kyrie yet. But when they do (happen), we’ll see if it’s the right fit for both sides.”

Apparently, it’s not.

Rumors are already circulating that Irving with reach his June 29 deadline without a new contract and the Nets would likely have to trade him after he opted in for 2022-23.

Though he experienced turbulence at both of his previous two NBA stops, Cleveland and Boston, Irving seemed excited to continue his journey here.

But the organization appears ready to move on without him.

That may affect Durant’s tenure here going forward, or the Nets may find a way to keep their lone remaining superstar in the mix.

To this point, Durant hasn’t expressed his feelings on the topic.

Kevin Durant hasn’t weighed in yet on the ongoing contract negotiations between the Nets and fellow superstar Kyrie Irving. AP Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

The Nets have spent the past month expressing a desire to wave goodbye to the second half of their superstar tandem.

“At the end of the day, I mean more often than not, it’s myself making those decisions,” Marks noted last month. “It’s not me going to Kevin and saying, ‘Do you want this person?’ … I don’t think that’s fair to place that on Kevin.

“He will know ahead of time what we’re doing, what we plan on doing with, to be honest with the entire roster.”


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