kyrie irving
Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports

In a shocking development that no one everyone saw coming, it looks like the Nets may be on the verge of implosion.

The Daily News’ Kristian Winfield just dropped a very newsy column on the tenuous state of the franchise. The biggest takeaways: The Nets are “outright unwilling” to give Kyrie Irving a long-term extension while Kevin Durant may now also be beefing with the front office — he has supposedly not spoken with team officials since the first-round sweep against the Celtics.

And if Irving declines his player option and walks this offseason, Winfield reports, there is a good chance Durant will follow him as the Nets slide back into irrelevancy.

Winfield writes:

If Irving leaves outright as a free agent this summer, disgruntled by the Nets’ hardball stance on his availability, Brooklyn doesn’t have the cap space to replace him with a star, which means Durant, entering Year 16, could be playing with a questionable Ben Simmons (back surgery) and a roster full of role players.


That’s a first-round exit at best – if Durant stays to see it, and according to multiple sources, Durant and the Nets front office have not spoken since they were swept out of the first round. … In layman’s terms, if Irving leaves the Nets, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Durant becomes frustrated with the organization’s ability to put championship pieces around him.

Makes you wonder about that wild Durant-Lakers trade take Kendrick Perkins threw out a few weeks ago, no?

Conventional wisdom suggests Irving will decline the option. It doesn’t make much sense for a player with his significant injury history – not to mention his other past availability issues — to be playing on a one-year deal. The Nets feel they have some leverage, according to Winfield, because all the teams that have the cap space to give him a long-term deal this offseason are not serious title contenders. But Winfield throws out the idea Irving could sign with a non-factor team and then get himself traded to a contender down the road.

Which brings everything back to the tough reality the Nets must now face: As much as general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash may want to corral Irving, they almost assuredly cannot if they want to keep their jobs and the Nets’ supposed championship window open. They either give him the new deal or the whole thing falls apart. It’s been obvious for a while now that Irving will be around as long as Durant wants him to be. Because if he isn’t here, Durant won’t be either.

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.