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Woj: Negotiations between Nets and Kyrie Irving have turned ‘acrimonious’ as Lakers ‘loom’

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

In an appearance on ESPN Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski said contract talks between Kyrie Irving and the Nets have turned “acrimonious” as the two sides continue look for common ground on where Irving will play next season.

Woj also said that while Irving has given the Nets six NBA destinations he’d prefer if there’s no agreement, there is limited interest in him at max money. The ESPN insider said the only team with any real interest is the Lakers. Still, he argued, getting Irving a contract paying more than $6.3 million — the taxpayers MLE — seems unlikely.

“This is getting acrimonious,” Woj told a panel on ESPN’s NBA analysts. “and I think that’s the concern when you look at not only Kyrie’s future in Brooklyn, but also Kevin Durant’s future and whether they can hold this thing together.”

As Ian Begley of SNY reported Thursday, owner Joe Tsai and Sean Marks are in lockstep on where they stand on negotiations.

Woj also was clear that with some of Irving’s six landing spots, not all of them reciprocate.

“The interest isn’t mutual in several of these places,” Woj said. “Obviously the Lakers are the ones that loom. And will Kyrie Irving walk away from a $36.9 million player option that he can opt into and have that money guaranteed, especially after a year where he lost about $17 million by not being vaccinated last year and untold more with a sneaker deal that isn’t going to be there anymore, certainly at the level it was.”

Nike with whom Irving had a stormy relationship in recent years, has reportedly informed him that their relationship is at an end, at least at a lucrative level. Woj said that even if L.A. does want to arrange a reunion with LeBron, has little hope of doing any kind of deal other than the TJThe report could also be an attempt by one side or the other to signal that it is now crunchtime to get things done between the Nets and Irving. That seems at this point unlikely.

“Except for they go out and really do some creative things financially, they can’t pay him more than $6 million next season. Now they could clear some cap space and sign him to an extension down the road, but you’re essentially looking at a $30 million paycut to walk away from this Brooklyn team, to opt out. As Bobby (Marks, ESPN’s capologist) said, just opting in to get a sign-and-trade somewhere, it’s a very complicated scenario.”

It’s uncertain where the Nets offer to Irving stands. Woj hinted the other day that it could be two years and $84 million, a far cry from the five year, $245.6 million Irving reportedly wants. And that would be higher than what Kristian Winfield suggested this week was their initial offer: opt in for the $36.9 million this coming season, then return to negotiations next July.

Irving has until next Wednesday to resolve the issue before free agency. But he can stretch things by opting out, then gauging the market in early July. During that time, the Nets will also have to fill out their roster and decide on their other eight free agents, including Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton. Should they get offers from other teams, Nets ownership and front office would have to decide whether to match. Not knowing Irving’s status (or KD’s) woud complicate things.

Zach Lowe, one of Woj’s ESPN said teams across the league are preparing for the “contingency” that Durant will ask for a trade.

“I can tell you this. This is what teams are doing. Teams are already operating under, not the assumption, but ‘we need to prepare for the contingency that Kevin Durant is available via trade in six days or seven days.’ Lowe on a post-NBA draft episode of his Lowe Post podcast: The whole league is now.”

On ESPN’s Get Up. Brian Windhorst agreed and suggested that Miami might also make a move.

“The godfather move is not to trade for Kyrie Irving. The godfather move is to let the Kyrie Irving situation to blow up and then wait for Kevin Durant to say he wants out of there. That’s the Miami Heat move,”