With opening night of the 2021-22 season just days away, the future availability of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving remains up in the air.
The Nets will begin their regular season in Milwaukee against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks with Irving at home.
The immediate future of the Nets will seemingly move forward without Irving, but what about the long term?
Rewind to early August and Nets GM Sean Marks said he was “confident” the franchise would sign both Irving and James Harden to extensions by the beginning of training camp.
Now come back to the present day, and The Athletic’s Shams Charania has reported that the Nets are no longer putting the extension offer on the table. A potential max extension would be worth $187 million over four years for the 29-year-old guard.
Unable to play home games with the Nets due to New York City’s vaccine mandate, Irving is set to lose $381,181 per game, which will quickly add up if the stalemate continues. It should be noted that he would be paid for scheduled road games even if he isn’t with the team, as the franchise made the decision not to have him with the squad.
According to Spotrac, the 7-time All-Star has a $36 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Operating well over the cap, the Nets would be loath to lose Irving in free agency for no return, but aside from the current absence, Irving has suffered from a number of injuries in recent seasons, most notably with his knees.
Seeing the floor in just 74 regular season games over the course of the last two seasons, the guard has appeared in over 70 games just once season since 2015.
Well and truly locked into their championship window, the franchise may reasonably make the decision that a multi-year extension is not within the best interests of the franchise moving forward. If they do reach this conclusion, it could open up the possibility of a trade, though guaging the current market for Irving is a difficult task to undertake.
For Brooklyn, the situation is far from ideal but hardly critical. While they would obviously love to have Irving on the floor alongside James Harden and Kevin Durant, the team is arguably still the favourite to come out of the Eastern Conference and possibly win the title.
The postseason is six months away, giving both parties more than enough time to come to a solution, but given the current uncertainty, taking an extension offer off the table makes the most sense.