Aussie Ben Simmons finds himself in the middle of an NBA train wreck with a superstar teammate ready to blow it all up.
The Nets’ negotiations with Kyrie Irving have always been challenging, and now they’ve reportedly reached an ‘impact’.
Irving could cancel his contract and become a free agent by the end of this month, and talks with Brooklyn about an extension have stalled. It could lead the All-Star point guard to consider other teams, according to the athletic†
Saying goodbye would be counterproductive for both sides, as the Nets wouldn’t be able to replace Irving if he left free and Brooklyn is the only place he can get a full five-year extension, capped at $353 million.
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“It’s always been about making me feel comfortable loving where I am, and I love it here,” Irving said. after the Nets were swept through Boston in April†
At this point, he has either changed his mind or is trying to bluff Nets CEO Sean Marks into believing he could.
Neither Marks nor Irving’s agent Shetellia Riley Irving commented, according to:The New York Post†
“He has to make some decisions on his own,” Marks said last month.
“We’re looking for guys who want to come here and be a part of something bigger than themselves, play selflessly, play team basketball and be available.”
And that’s the crux of the matter.
Irving only registered 29 appearances during the regular season, largely because of his refusal to comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
And since his 2019 arrival with Kevin Durant, injuries, personal leave and vaccine refusals have caused him to miss 123 of 226 regular season games.
That has both raised questions about how much Brooklyn can count on him, and lowered his trade value around the NBA.
Irving and the Nets have “serious work to do” to come to an agreement, and if they don’t, the athletic reports that the Knicks, Lakers and Clippers could be suitors.
Irving has until June 29 to pick up or decline his $36.9 million player option for next season. Seeing him leave as a free agent would be the nuclear option and catastrophic for the Nets, who are over the limit and cannot replace him.
Irving’s unavailability contributed to James Harden’s trade demand, and ironically, Harden’s replacement Ben Simmons stopped playing this year†
With all teams having cap space and a reasonable ability to sign Irving as an unrestricted free agent at various stages of a rebuild, that makes a sign-and-trade the most likely way for a departure – which is still not guaranteed at this point.
Receiving teams in sign-and-trades get hard limits, making the prospect more daunting for the likes of the Lakers or Clippers.
But Marks has a history of constructing complex trades when the need arises – and if the parties can’t break this stalemate, the need would be dire. He hit a four-team blockbuster to get Harden on January 13 last year, and surpassed that by tying the NBA record with a five-team deal to air Spencer Dinwiddie last August.
The Athletic report listed the Lakers as a possible destination but did not mention Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook, who has a complicated history with Durant.
The Lakers would mean a reunion with LeBron James, and Irving recently spoke of the possibility that he would have followed James to LA had he not chased Cleveland.
“I’d probably be in LA right now. I would probably travel with his backpack. No, I’m kidding, man,” Irving said on the… I am an athlete podcasting.
‘We’ve had conversations, me and Bron, a lot of conversations. That’s my dog, yell to Bron, man.’
When speculating about the Clippers, The Athletic stated that two or three of Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris and Norman Powell would fit salary-wise alongside young sweeteners like Brandon Boston or Terance Mann.
Still, it illustrates how depressed the market has become for Irving.
Neither team has a first-round selection in Thursday’s draft, with the Knicks holding pick no.
An earlier report said the Nets were unwilling to give Irving a long-term deal and league leaders expected the Nets to make up for up to 15 percent of any extension, including “unlikely bonuses.”
It cannot be confirmed whether the cause of the stalemate has to do with height, money, language or something else.
But The Athletic report follows one last week from Jake Fischer in an online chat with Eddie Gonzalez of Boardroom, owned by Durant, in which Fischer sowed doubts about Irving’s future in Brooklyn.
Marks would clearly consult with Durant before making a seismic move, such as handling Irving.
— This story originally appeared on nypost.com and has been republished with permission
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