Welcome back to the show that never ends.
The Nets and Kyrie Irving are at an “impasse,” according to The Athletic. NBA insider Shams Charania reports talks between the Nets and the mercurial point guard have “gone stagnant.” The current state of play is said to make it more likely Irving will elect to become a free agent this summer. He has until June 29 to exercise a one-year player option to stay with the Nets.
Charania also reports the Knicks — along with the Clippers and Lakers — are expected to pursue Irving if he leaves the Nets.
The Nets started the offseason following their playoff flame-out talking tough about Irving. Then came a Daily News report the team was “outright unwilling” to give the unreliable Irving an extension, followed by The Post reporting the Nets were expected to give Irving the new deal anyway. And now we’re back to where we started.
What a mess.
Irving has a significant injury history in addition to all the other drama that has kept him off the court at times. So he would be taking a big risk by passing up $37 million in guaranteed salary next year to hit the market after he ruined the Nets’ season with his vaccine refusal. But then again, his talent may be too substantial to suffer any financial consequences on the open market.
The Nets seem exhausted with Irving’s nonsense and clearly would prefer to move on. But they also desperately need to keep Irving. Their salary cap situation does not give them flexibility to pursue another star player of Irving’s caliber if he leaves. And if Irving leaves, Kevin Durant is probably not far behind him. Which would make the Nets completely irrelevant again.
It’s hard to believe Irving would land with the Knicks. Tom Thibodeau and Irving don’t seem like a productive pairing. The Lakers feel like a much more realistic landing spot given their desperation to squeeze more championships out of LeBron James (and Irving’s ties to James).
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]