It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Brooklyn Nets, who are in the middle of dealing with a trade request from superstar forward Kevin Durant. While the Nets have said they want to keep the two-time champion, Durant hasn’t changed his stance on wanting to leave the team, and even told team owner Joe Tsai that the franchise needs to choose between him and the pair of head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. No progress has been made toward a deal for Durant, but there’s been no shortage of interested teams in the future Hall of Famer, and that now includes the Memphis Grizzlies.
However, Durant isn’t the only rocky situation the Nets have dealt with this summer. Kyrie Irving has also been at the center of trade rumors during the offseason, and was most prominently linked with the Los Angeles Lakers as a destination. When Durant requested a trade in late June, the assumption was the Nets would also deal Irving, who opted into his $37 million player option this summer. If Durant got traded, the thinking was that the need for Irving on a team that couldn’t contend for a championship would be pointless.
However, Shams Charania reports the Nets have informed teams around the league that they plan on keeping Irving for the 2022-23 season.
“…Kyrie Irving committed to the 2022-23 season in Brooklyn and sources with knowledge of the situation say he has been working out with teammates and holding constructive dialogue with the organization this offseason. Brooklyn has made clear to interested teams that they plan to keep the seven-time All-Star.”
That’s a pretty swift change in plans for the Nets, especially considering the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension earlier this summer. Irving wanted a long-term, lucrative deal, but Brooklyn was hesitant to shell out that kind of money to Irving, and for good reason. Since joining the Nets in 2019, Irving has missed games due to injuries, sitting out for personal reasons and this past season was ineligible for most of the regular season due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. With all of that history in just three seasons, it’s unclear why Brooklyn is now reversing course and planning on keeping him, especially if Durant gets dealt.
Whatever the reason, Irving being off the table is a blow for the Lakers, who had the most interest in trading for the All-Star guard. The Lakers were hoping that by landing Irving they could trade Russell Westbrook in the process. But Brooklyn reportedly never wanted Westbrook, and finding a third team to pawn him off on wasn’t easy.
Brooklyn’s plan to keep Irving could change once the season gets going, and there’s a chance he could get dealt ahead of the trade deadline midseason. But for right now, it appears as though Brooklyn plans on at least starting the season with Irving on the roster, regardless of what happens with Durant.