How The Daily News reported as early as May 25.The Nets were playing with fire. And now, after almost a month, they are about to burn.
We already know the Nets were unwilling to renew Kyrie Irving’s long-term contract after he played a total of just 103 regular season games in his first three seasons in Brooklyn, and after his decision not to get his COVID-19 shot. 19 ruined the Nets’ championship hopes last season.
We also already know that Kevin Durant’s future is inextricably tied to Irving and the Nets’ decision. If Irving and the Nets can’t come to an agreement keeping the superstar quarterback in Brooklyn, Durant, who signed a four-year, $198 million extension last summer, will likely demand a trade from the franchise that couldn’t keep its co-star. in the town.
Now, according to ESPN, we know where Irving wants to be traded in case he and the Nets can’t come to an agreement: any of the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs” or “76ers”. Neither team has room to sign Irving if he waives his player option before the June 29 deadline and tests free rein. And only two of those teams (Lakers and Heat) have a star-caliber player (Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowrey) that the Nets could pair with Durant.
That means we’ve reached the danger zone, with the Nets trading all of their picks until 2027 and Ben Simmons having back surgery and not playing basketball for a whole calendar year. If the Nets can’t come to terms with Irving and Durant asks for a trade, they’ll go back to the 20- and 28-win seasons that Brooklyn came out of. Let’s go back to the ping-pong ball lottery race with picks that don’t belong to them. This is again irrelevant. Let’s go back to designing late first and second round picks. Back to the lack of fans jokes, because season ticket holders are already threatening to boycott Nets games over ticket price hikes for a franchise that may well not have the stars it sold.
Or the Nets might break out of it. They could get out of this selfish trip and get Irving the deal he wants. They can give him a maximum contract for four years or a three-year contract with a play promotion that gives guaranteed money in the fourth and fifth years. In May, a source who requested anonymity due to the nature of the negotiations told The News that the Nets wanted Irving to agree to the final year of his $36.5 million contract to “prove” he deserved a long-term deal. For a star player with a very real history of injury, a one-year deal is not a starting deal. It’s unclear if the Nets have turned down the one-year position and offered more, but judging by reports that the Nets and Irving are at a “dead end” in contract negotiations, it’s fair to assume that the length of the contract is a stumbling block. discussions.
Brooklyn’s best-case scenario remains a long-term contract with Irving, living and dying with him and Durant in pursuit of the borough’s championship over the next four years. Rarely in NBA history are two talented players like Irving and Durant joining forces in their best years. It’s even rarer for a franchise to lose stars like the Nets if the front office doesn’t find a way to keep Irving long-term.
It’s almost impossible to find an alternate reality that gives the Nets an equal or even better chance of winning the championship. And if the Nets play tougher and don’t agree to signing and trading with a team that Irving likes, he could leave as a free agent and sign a maximum contract with a team that has room under the ceiling (Spurs, Pistons The Magic and Pacers can clear enough space to sign Irving to a maximum deal) with an agreement that he be traded elsewhere in exchange for draft draft assets and young players once restrictions are lifted on December 15.
Friendly reminder: Even if Irving’s $36.5 million is left out, the Nets still don’t have room in the cap to sign the ultimate free agent or any powerful player who commands more than a mid-level elimination. It will be Durant and Simmons and RPGs that will end up being just Simmons and RPGs to develop.
The other side of that coin is a future that includes Durant, Irving, Simmons, and any additional players that the Nets think will make this team a contender. If Simmons is healthy — and after a year off basketball, he should be — the Nets could have the best trio in all of basketball. They could use their three-traded eliminations to acquire powerful players from other teams, and then also use their mid-tier taxpayer eliminations to make significant signings. The Daily News reported Wednesday that the Nets are among the teams interested in signing Durant’s friend PJ Tucker.
One thing is for sure: Tucker won’t come to Brooklyn if Irving isn’t there, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that if Irving isn’t in town, Durant might not be either. And if Durant is gone, then so is everything the Nets have built.
Champion aspirations. Loyal, growing fan base. Belief that this organization can do its job. Three years later they are gone.