One of the biggest stories of the NBA Draft 2022 was the departure of Kevin Durant. It was reported on Thursday that Kevin might hand in a transfer request if Irving decides to leave the Nets. However, sources close to Durant have denied the rumors of his departure and insisted that he is likely to stay whether or not Irving Leaves. The main demand of Durant, however, is the map of the club’s future planning.
That could all be putting the cart before the horse, of course. Although the volatile guard wants a longer guaranteed deal and the team prefers a shorter one, Irving and the Nets are still thought to be trying to find common ground to retain him in Brooklyn. Owner Joe Tsai and Nets general manager Sean Marks is believed to be in agreement on this.
Negotiations have hit a standstill, and several media reports stated that if Irving left, Durant would follow suit. This would be the worst-case situation for the Nets and one that the Rockets would undoubtedly relish. Durant joined the team in 2019 as a package deal with his longtime friend. To exercise his $36 million player option for the upcoming season, Irving has until this Wednesday. He could turn it down and then sign with any team that can pay him as an unrestricted free agency.
Options for Irving
With no contenders having significant cap space — the Lakers would be able to offer him a $6 million taxpayer midlevel exception, or a $30 million pay cut — Irving’s options are limited and his best leverage comes from his friend Durant threatening to follow him out the door. But there is a perception among some league personnel that this is an artfully crafted and well-coordinated bluff.
Irving would rather accept a long-term contract to stay in Brooklyn or do a sign-and-trade to go so he can actually receive a comparable contract. He provided the Nets with a list of his top picks, including the 76ers, Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Lakers, and Mavericks. Irving’s acquisition would be restricted by a sign-and-trade. Eliminating that obstacle and waiting a day would make a deal easier.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that it is not necessary that both, or even one, would leave the club
“KD wanting to remain with the Nets is not necessarily contingent on if Kyrie Irving walks. That, if he walks, he wants to see what the roster could still look like, how it could be reshaped, how it can still be a championship contender,” he said. “[Durant’s] starting that new four-year max deal. This isn’t the transfer portal. You don’t get to say where you’d like to go. So if he decided and wanted and asked for a trade — which I’m told he’s not told the Nets he’s going to do or is ready to do — he’s probably not going to have a lot of say in where he goes.
“So that has to be part of [Durant’s] thinking if he does ask out of Brooklyn. But right now, I still think there’s a pathway for the Nets, for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to find a way forward together. But it’s murky, and it’s uncertain. Listen, the future of this Nets organization very well is going to be determined here in the next several days to a week.”