In his podcast Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about the Nets conundrum over Kyrie Irving’s future, suggesting trading the banished star might be difficult. Indeed, Woj called the market for the seven-time All-Star “dicey” while adding that there are no talks between the Nets and 76ers about a Ben Simmons-for-Irving block buster ... and he doesn’t think the Sixers will ever call.
Woj was speaking with Malika Andrews, ESPN’s former Nets beat writer and host of its new “NBA Today” show which debuts on the network Monday.
As our Alec Sturm tweeted off the podcast, Woj was not optimistic about the Nets situation, saying the organization doesn’t have much if any hope that Irving will get vaccinated.
“The bottom line is, Kyrie Irving is not vaccinated,” said Woj. “At this point he doesn’t sound as though he is about to get vaccinated to be able to return and play for this Nets team. And the Nets are preparing for the fact that’s he’s not gonna be there.”
Unless Irving gets at least one shot of any approved vaccines or the city relents on his COVID rules for indoor venues, he has been excluded by the Nets from play or practice.
Moreover, despite Irving’s contention the his stand is not about the Nets or the NBA, Woj implies there is — and has been — some anxiety about Irving’s overall commitment, suggesting that the Nets acquired Harden in January more or less as “Irving insurance” ...
Woj, via his podcast:— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
"When the Nets made [the Harden] trade, they saw James Harden as a necessity. I think that they could already see that they may not be able to count on Kyrie Irving."
More Woj on James Harden being potential Kyrie Irving insurance, via his podcast:— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
"I think the day James Harden arrived in Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving was expendable — if he chose to be expendable."
Now, though, the situation has reached a crisis stage with Irving’s resistance to the city’s mandate on vaccination.
Woj says: "Right now, [the Nets] are not assuming" that Kyrie will "change course" and get vaccinated.— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
(Via The Woj Pod)
What about a trade? Again, Woj did not paint an optimistic picture...
Cont.: 'He wanted Brooklyn, he wanted Kevin Durant, he wanted to play for his childhood team and there have been a lot of instances where it's fair to question how much he wanted to play."— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
He also basically dismisses a Simmons-for-Irving blockbuster...
On his podcast, Woj says no traction yet on a poential Kyrie-Simmons trade from Philly:— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
“They have not made that call to Brooklyn and I don’t that they ever will. You never know, things could change, but they haven't made it yet [and] I'm not sure they're going to make it."
Woj spoke as well about James Harden’s extension. If the Nets don’t extend him by Monday night, he could become a restricted free agent next July. Any deal he signed then would be more lucrative than we can sign now.
Woj on James Harden contract extension talks: “I don’t think there’s great alarm about James Harden holding off to sign.”— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 16, 2021
"It makes sense monetarily [and] he loves what they have there."
It’s the second time in four days that ESPN has discussed the possibility of a trade. Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks in their FAQ on Irving’s situation Tuesday speculated about a trade of Irving’s contract to the Oklahoma City Thunder which has both the cap space to take on Irving’s huge contract and 17 first round picks over the next seven Drafts.
If the Nets do get to a point of no return, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the type of team that makes sense as a possible trade partner.
The Thunder can absorb the entire Irving contract and save Brooklyn $145 million in salary and tax penalties for this season. More important, the Nets would go under the luxury tax for this season and stop the clock as it pertains to the repeater tax penalty in the future.
The Nets would also create a $35.3 million trade exception — the largest in league history.
A trade like that would also put the Nets under the luxury tax threshold and give them other signing options. No indication from Bontemps and Bobby Marks that there’s been any interest either way.
- Kyrie Irving situation: His trade market and Nets’ options - Yossi Gozlan - Hoopshype
- Potential Kyrie Irving return, James Harden’s health, still Eastern Conference faves? Nets mailbag - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic