NBA star Kyrie Irving has reportedly given the Brooklyn Nets a final answer on his $37 million contract after a crazy game of brinkmanship.
Just hours after he sent the NBA into meltdown with reports Brooklyn had agreed to let him explore other sign-and-trade packages, the 30-year-old NBA star has reportedly told the team he will activate the final year of his contract.
The update is being received as a huge win for the Nets’ front office after Irving folded on his threat to leave and forego the $53 million he will earn in the 2022-23 season.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania first revealed the update, reporting: “Irving is opting into his $37 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
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“Irving is bypassing on multiple opt-in and trade scenarios to fulfil his four-year commitment to the Nets and Kevin Durant.”
Irving released a brief statement: “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall.”
He also posted a tweet after the news had dropped.
It is an extraordinary finish to a rollercoaster game of brinkmanship.
Brooklyn had refused to hand Irving — who missed 123 of 226 regular-season games since his 2019 arrival in New York – a full five-year, $245 million max contract, but were believed to have offered more than just a one-year deal.
After all the fuss, Irving is coming back next season on the exact same deal he is currently on.
When Irving was earlier asked by Complex.com whether he wanted to remain a Brooklyn Net, he laughed and rather than answer he pointed to his agent and step mum Shetellia Riley Irving who was standing beside him.
“When I smile like that, it means more there’s more to the story. I’ll have my time to address things,” Irving tweeted in response to the video.
Irving had until Thursday to pick up his $53 million player option for next season.
He could have become a free agent and sign with another team (like the Lakers for $9 million on the taxpayer MLE) with the Nets getting no compensation.
Irving’s decision clearly shows he didn’t want to walk away from $44 million — and suggests the team read him like a book.
Irving had given Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks a list of a half-dozen teams that he’d prefer to be traded to should they fail to reach an extension: The Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Mavericks, Lakers and 76ers. Marks refused to budge.
It is a decision that has likely saved the Nets from a potential implosion.
Irving’s reported bargaining ship in the negotiations was that friend Kevin Durant could have become disgruntled and followed him out the door.
A cat was thrown among the pigeons recently with Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard clearly attempting to lure Durant away.
A photoshopped image showing Lillard and Durant side-by-side in Blazers jerseys quickly took the NBA world by storm.
Fellow Blazers star Jusuf Nurkic jumped on the bandwagon, uploading the image to his Twitter account with the puzzle piece emoji.
It all left Irving at the centre of the Nets’ potential implosion.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said earlier on Tuesday Irving’s previous request to explore other options was a “Grade A stare down”.
Irving blinked first.
“Instead of the discussion being about the extension, the discussion is now about this option,” Windhorst told ESPN.
“Before I say this, this could just be a negotiating position, but the message the Nets are sending is that they’re willing to lose Kevin Durant, if it means [not] going through what they went through last season.”
“That has sent ripple effects throughout the league over the last four or five days. There are now teams all across the league talking about what it would take to get Kevin Durant.
“I have talked to several star player agents in the last 24 hours, whose teams have come to the star player and said, ‘How do you feel about playing with Kyrie Irving? How do you feel about playing with Kevin Durant?’”
— with nypost.com