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Shams: Nets, Kyrie Irving had serious talks before opt-in

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving... Photo by John Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Shams Charania who broke the news of Kyrie Irving’s decision to opt-in — with a direct quote from Irving — reports that in the week prior to the decision, the two sides had “productive” discussions about an extension, but that in the end, they couldn’t reach an agreement.

Shams also reports that the Irving saga may not be over, that the Nets have options. Here’s the key point on the talks, per The Athletic writer:

Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, and the Nets front office held extensive and productive extension discussions over the past six days, with sources on both sides describing good-faith negotiations to reach a new deal. The Nets and Shetellia Riley Irving worked through various proposals, including a two-year max extension that included incentives based on games played as well as a four-year max that included two years guaranteed and triggers for years three and four based on the games played in years one and two, sources said. Irving showed a willingness to accept an incentive-based deal before a final counter was made to the Nets, according to sources: a short-term contract extension protecting both sides with a player option. Brooklyn declined.

Shams does not further elaborate on the details in the final offer from Brooklyn nor what the issue was for the Nets in declining. The player option perhaps? Nor does he discuss the process that led Irving to ultimately decide to opt-in. Brian Windhorst reported earlier Tuesday that the Nets learned of the opt-in decision until Shams tweeted it out on Monday afternoon.

Shams also writes that Irving had three opt-in and trade scenarios.

Sources said Irving had three potential opt-in-and-trade options available to pursue before making his final decision. Across the league, there are only five teams with projected salary-cap space: Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando, Indiana and New York, with all wanting to build around younger players or prioritizing other free agents.

Shams later reported on The Pat McAfee Show that the three teams interested were Miami, Dallas and Philadelphia, the last of which seemed like a stretch. He also confirmed reports of the mutual interest he and the Lakers had about landing in L.A.

For their part, the Lakers were much more motivated to have Irving sign as a free agent than they were in acquiring the three-time All-NBA guard via trade, sources said. And as Irving went through his opt-in-and-trade options — as well as the potential of joining the Lakers in free agency — the decision to return to Brooklyn crystalized.

Of course, Irving would have had to leave $30 million on the table since he could only have gotten the $6.3 million taxpayers MLE if he had opted out. As for a sign-and-trade, it was reported to be centered on a Kyrie Irving-for-Russell Westbrook exchange, something the Nets were not interested in.

Shams does say that the Irving saga may not be at an end, that the Nets are still considering their options. The Nets indeed have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

The focus now turns to the Nets, players desiring to stay committed to the task at hand and whether Tsai and Marks are able to repair the issues that led to several teams across the league preparing for the prospect of both Durant and Irving being traded this week. There are real matters of contention that need to be addressed among Nets ownership, management and players, multiple sources said, and the Nets could still decide to move Irving this offseason or next season.

The depth of those “issues” was also not detailed.

While the Nets could move to trade him, the market may not be robust. Giving up good young players and presumably draft assets for a controversial if supremely talented player on an expiring deal is probably not an attractive option. So what’s Irving’s mission, assuming he plays for the Nets this season.

Multiple sources with knowledge of his decision said Irving wants to prioritize winning a championship next season and show why he’s one of the best players in the league.

For now, Irving is back in Brooklyn. These Nets still have serious matters on their hands in order to sort out the direction of the franchise.

Shams reiterated much of what he wrote in an appearance later Tuesday on the McAfee Show, noting how “unpredictable” Irving is...

Meanwhile, Irving posted a video Tuesday morning, his first comment since announcing the decision to opt in...

“This is a great moment in my spiritual path, being present enough to understand that it’s not me doing all this,” said Irving over video of him in North Dakota. “At this point I’m being pushed in certain directions,” Irving said, adding, “You can’t be afraid to make mistakes, in private or out in the open. The mistakes that you do make, you’ve got to learn from them.”