Other than Ben Simmons if and when he returns, there will no Net under more scrutiny in the post-season than Kyrie Irving. As Ian O’Connor of the Post writes on Friday, the question with Irving is binary: Is he worth the trouble? This year’s playoffs will go a long way to answering that. How the Nets fare will in turn have some effect on off-season negotiations on an extension for Irving that could be close to a quarter billion dollars. O’Connor thinks not.
The veteran New York sports writer succinctly notes the downside of Irving: “Injuries. Sabbaticals. Unwanted vaccines. Yep, it’s always something, and it’s always going to be something.” But also the upside, talking to Bob Cousy, the point guard of point guards. about where Irving stands all-time. “Kyrie touches all the bases,” Cousy said. “He dictates and penetrates at will, and there’s probably no big man who can alter what he’s trying to do if he’s made up his mind to do it. … Every part of Kyrie’s game is under control. I’d put him up against anyone.”
Barring something unusual (and noting the Nets bar for the unusual is quite low), the deck is pretty much stacked in Irving’s favor when talks begin after July 1, O’Connor argues. The Nets and Joe Tsai know that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are “joined at the hip” as former Nets exec Bobby Marks tells O’Connor. And since Irving has said in no uncertain terms he wants back in Brooklyn, — “no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere” — the question seems more about when, not if.
“If they entertain the thought of not bringing Kyrie back and explore sign-and-trades, they should also explore their options of trading Durant,” said Marks, an ESPN analyst. “That’s the reality of it. Kyrie recruited Durant, and these guys are attached at the hip. These are the cards the Nets have been dealt.”
Moreover, Bobby Marks doesn’t believe that Irving would be a willing participant if in the unlikely event Sean Marks wanted to engineer a sign-and-trade.
The Nets, he said, have two basic choices: extend Irving another five years at $248 million or four years and $190 million. They can always ask for guarantees and options but Irving would have to agree.
Bobby Marks said one solution would be the Nets offer the four-year package through 2025-26. That way he and KD would have their contracts in sync with both expiring the same year (Simmons is under contract through the previous season before.)
“I’d sign him and then have a lot of sleepless nights,” former Nets exec told O’Connor.
Asked what he’d do if Irving insisted on the fifth year, a non-Durant year, at a projected salary of more than $56 million in 2026-2027, Marks simply repeated, “I’d sign him and then have a lot of sleepless nights.”
That of course is a question for July. Irving has a well-deserved reputation for playing well in big games, whether it’s the dagger at the end of Game 7 of NBA Finals in 2016 or dominating James Harden on both ends of the court on March 10. And just as he’ll have Durant on his side in July, he’ll have him on his side in April.
- Kyrie Irving’s playoff performance will show Nets whether he’s worth the trouble - Ian O’Connor - New York Post