So much for the Nets standing up to Kyrie Irving.
The Post reports “all indications strongly point toward a reunion” between Irving and the Nets. And the industry belief is the Nets will give the mercurial guard a contract extension this summer. Buzz about a blockbuster deal that would send Irving to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook is also unfounded, according to the report.
Irving is three weeks out from a June 29 deadline to either opt in or out of the final year of his current deal. He would make $36.5 million next season if he opts in.
This latest report comes after Nets general manager Sean Marks talked tough during his end-of-season press conference. It also follows a report by The Daily News that said the Nets were “outright unwilling” to extend Irving after his vaccine refusal ruined this past season.
But — surprise! — the Nets seem to have remembered that Kevin Durant drives the bus. He wants Irving around. And if Irving was to go elsewhere, Durant would likely follow given the cap-strapped Nets would have little flexibility rebuild a championship-caliber roster around him.
And if that happens? The Nets are not only irrelevant locally (which they already are), but also nationally. No ESPN First Take for them once they’re back in the basement.
You have to think Irving is opting out, even if an extension isn’t finalized when the deadline rolls around. It makes little sense for a guy with his injury issue to roll the dice on a one-year deal. And he knows the Nets can’t afford to let him walk, even if they wish they could. Irving has them over a barrel. So the song remains the same. The cavalcade of nonsense rolls on. Meanwhile the Irving-less Celtics and Durant-less Warriors are preparing for Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]