The NBA’s latest superteam could soon be no more.
That is, if Kyrie Irving does not get his way, with the latest developments from NBA insiders suggesting Kevin Durant could follow his teammate out the door before next season.
Reports emerged earlier in the week that Irving and Brooklyn are at an “impasse” in talks about his future at the franchise.
The Nets superstar can decline his $36.5 million ($A52.9m) player option and become a free agent this offseason and he would not have a shortage of suitors.
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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving has a list of teams he would like Brooklyn to consider sending him to if he cannot reach an agreement to stay with the organization.
Not that he has that much of a choice over where he ends up, Irving reportedly wants to either be sent on a sign-and-trade to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heats, Mavs and 76ers.
Sources told Wojnarowski “those are teams who Irving has interest in, but he isn’t necessarily a priority for all of them”.
The glaring issue for Irving is that none of those teams currently have the cap space to sign him onto a max deal, meaning Brooklyn would need to make a few concessions.
Wojnarowski reported the Knicks are trying to clear cap space to recruit Dallas Mavericks free-agent guard Jalen Brunson, although if that falls through they may trade for Malcolm Brogdon.
Should they fail in both those bids, the Knicks will then likely look at the possibility of landing Irving.
NBA insider Marc Stein also recently reported there have been “credible rumblings” that Irving has spoken with Lakers star LeBron James.
“To presumably discuss a potential meeting in Hollywood,” he added.
But the Lakers too face a complicated path to secure Irving’s signature.
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“They do not possess the trade assets to realistically engage Brooklyn in Irving trade talks even if he exercises his player option for next season,” Stein wrote in his Substack.
“Also: The Lakers, as things stand, couldn’t offer Irving more than the midlevel exception for tax-paying teams for next season if Irving bypasses his player option to opt for free agency.
“That MLE, remember, tops out at a projected $6.39 million ($A9.3m). The idea of Irving declining his player option and essentially playing for $30 million ($A43m) less in LA, even after the $15-plus million ($A21.7m) he willingly sacrificed last season and missing the first 35 games of the season, it just doesn’t seem plausible.”
It is not just Irving the Nets have to worry about, with The Athletic’s Shams Charania reporting that Durant is “monitoring Brooklyn’s 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,” Charania added.
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The Nets were supposed to be a championship-contending superteam but instead face another off-season crippled by uncertainty.
speaking on ESPN’s ‘NBA Today’, JJ Redick said it would be an “absolute disaster” if Brooklyn lost both Irving and Durant.
“Well, there’s always posturing, there’s always smoke and mirrors, people are looking for leverage,” he said.
“Players do it, teams do it, agents do it, this is really nothing new to the NBA.
“I do think the idea that if Kyrie were to walk and Kevin Durant was to request a trade like that would be an absolute disaster for the Brooklyn Nets.”