The Brooklyn Nets don’t have a pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but they are still a top story on draft day anyway. As Kyrie Irving’s bizarre contract situation plays out, reports are trickling out that Kevin Durant is “monitoring the Brooklyn Nets’ situation and considering options with his future.”
Sources: Kevin Durant is monitoring the Brooklyn Nets’ situation and considering options with his future.
This now opens the path for Kyrie Irving to proceed on finding a new home via opt-in and trade.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2022
ESPN Sources: If Kyrie Irving can’t reach an agreement to stay with Brooklyn, he has a list of teams he’d like them to consider on sign-and-trades, including Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs and 76ers. None of those teams have cap space to sign him without Nets’ help.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2022
The report says KD is “monitoring Brooklyn’s situation” but in reality, he’s monitoring Irving. The two came to Brooklyn as a package deal, but after three tumultuous seasons with Irving, the Nets are having second thoughts about offering a second massive contract.
It’s no surprise to see the Nets hesitate to give Irving a blank check, but it’s also not surprising to see Irving and Durant posturing. General manager Sean Marks made his bed when he signed the superstar pair. The Nets were going all-in on this duo (and for a hot second the trio with James Harden).
Sure, Marks can play hardball with Irving, but he runs the risk of losing Durant in the process. As it stands, the Nets seem to have two options here:
1) Sign Irving to a long-term deal and ensure Durant is staying.
2) Tell Irving to get lost and be forced into trading a disgruntled Durant.
Neither option is perfect, but Marks and the Nets are backed into a corner. Again, they made their bed when they signed Durant and Irving in a “clean sweep” in the summer of 2019. Re-sign Irving or start a rebuild.
Push for Victor Wembanyama? If Marks chooses door No. 2, his best course of action would be to go for as many unprotected 2023 picks as possible. Brooklyn owns two 2023 first-rounders already — Philadelphia’s (unprotected) and their own (but Houston can exercise a pick swap).
Due to that pick swap, tanking doesn’t make sense for Brooklyn, but if Durant forces his way out, a full-scale teardown would be the smartest option. The 2023 draft class is going to be deep. Wembanyama could be a generational talent, Scoot Henderson would be in contention for the No. 1 pick in any other draft class, and the rest of the lottery is stacked with promising names.
Going from championship contender to a rebuilding team overnight would be tough for Nets fans to swallow. However, if Brooklyn is done with Irving’s antics, loading up on picks in the 2023 draft class and building around that core is the best course of action.