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As rumors fly, one thing is certain: Brooklyn Nets are in the big mix

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Four Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Over a span of a few hours on Tuesday, with varying degrees of certainty, three well-known sports personalities said that they have been told that Kyrie Irving will join the Nets next season. The six-time NBA All-Star, NBA champion and gold medalist in both the Olympics and FIBA World Cup can become an unrestricted free agent in July and sign anywhere he pleases.

Is it true? Who knows. Is it premature? Almost certainly. But for a team whose free agent pickings have been slim to none over the course of their history, it is a big deal. The Brooklyn Nets are in the big mix ... and not just for Irving. Hardly a day — hell, hardly an hour— goes by without a new rumor linking them to Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris or Anthony Davis.

Tuesday’s reporting about Irving was worth noting though because it was definitive and came from multiple sources. Here’s a sampling, starting with Stephen A. Smith, who has been all over the lot on his free agent predictions. He said within the previous few hours he’d learned that Irving wants to join the Nets, not the Knicks. Smith said the Kevin Durant doesn’t want to join Brooklyn, but Irving might try to convince him.

Smith followed a more definitive claim by Colin Cowherd on FOX Sports. He claimed Irving is “75%” leaning toward signing with the Brooklyn Nets. And when some of his fans doubted him, Cowherd put them down.

Later Tuesday, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders was asked about the rumors. He said he’d heard them.

Even Bill Simmons, ever the Celtics fan, got in on it, suggesting that Irving is poison to a young team.

Whatever, Bill.

And Charles Barkley offered his own general take on Nets vs. Knicks...

At the end of the day —the day being July 1, perhaps— everyone will know Irving’s fate and to be fair, all the high-sounding predictions of Kyrie to Brooklyn were indeed accompanied by a bodyguard of caveats. But the Nets are in a very unaccustomed position, as the team that could determine the final form of NBA free agency this summer. How crazy is that?

Now, neither Adrian Wojnarowski nor Shams Charania has confirmed any of this. That’s fine. That will come. And others, like Anthony Puccio and Brian Lewis, have written in recent weeks about mutual interest between team player.

Still, Tuesday’s wave of rumor and speculation by national figures like Smith and Cowherd makes the possibility more realistic.

For now, rather than being anxious about all this, just sit back and enjoy it.

As Luis Scola said three years ago, “Once they win, they will get everyone they want.”

That time has arrived.