Is it all over for the Nets? Maybe not, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can be prepared for it.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving has a list of teams he would like to be traded if he decides to leave Brooklyn. Shams Charania reported that Durant monitor the Nets situation should Irving leave, echoing? similar reporting by Woj earlier this week. Looks like Irving’s constant unavailability has finally caught up with the Brooklyn front office, as they reportedly are unwilling to give Irving maximum years on a new deal.
If Irving decides to leave, it will be interesting to see if he is able to join a team he prefers while getting paid maximum. Most of these teams would need Brooklyn’s cooperation to acquire him through an opt-in-and-trade, which would complicate a move for him even more. If Irving leaves, Durant could very well be next, and the return for him could jump-start the rebuilding of the Nets.
How can these teams land Irving?
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Before something drastic happens, Irving must first a decision on his $36.5 million player option by June 29† If he signs up, he can be traded immediately, even before the start of free agency. If he declines, he can either re-sign with the Nets, sign with another team, or join another team through a sign-and-trade.
The problem with opting out is that, with the exception of the Knicks and perhaps the Heat, it’s very unlikely that Irving will be able to join any of his favorite teams while being properly paid.
The Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks and 76ers are expected to be over the luxury tax already, and a sign-and-trade for Irving would be complicated to execute as it would be difficult for them to pick up the rest of the roster afterward. build. Any team that acquires a free agent through sign-and-trade will be given hard limits, and acquiring Irving would realistically place these teams well above the hard limit.
The Knicks are looking for payroll to generate enough cap space to Jalen Brunson an offer, but they would need to generate a lot more to hit Irving’s $42.7 million maximum. A sign-and-trade would be more realistic for the Knicks to take over Irving, which would require $34 million to be returned to the Nets. A combination of Evan Fournier† Alec Burksand Nerlens Noël can receive the appropriate salaries.
There is a way for Miami to be able to acquire Irving in a sign-and-trade if necessary while filling out the roster under the hard cap. A package Kyle Lowry† Tyler Herroz, and one minimum contract equates to Irving’s $42.7 million, while keeping just over $22 million under the hard limit with seven roster spots. That’s enough space to redraw PJ Tucker to the maximum starting salary of $8.4 million that Miami is allowed to give him, while the rest of the roster is filled with minimal contracts. Including Duncan Robinsonor by acquiring Irving through an opt-in-and-trade, Miami would give more flexibility in payroll, such as access to the mid-level exception.
If Irving signs up and trades during free agency, his 15 percent trading bonus would be worth $5.5 million and his salary would increase from $36.9 to $42.4 million. If he signs up and is traded to a free agency, that $5.5 million bonus would be split evenly between his 2021-22 and 2022-23 salaries. That would raise his salary to $39.7 million next season. To simplify things, teams must send at least $30.4 million to match Irving’s salaries if traded before free agency, and $33.9 million if traded during trade.
The main path from the Lakers to Irving would be trade Russell Westbrook† Their biggest drawback is their lack of resources, which is limited to first-round picks in 2027 and 2029. One of them may have to be diverted to a third team to face Westbrook, assuming Brooklyn doesn’t interested in him.
The Clippers are limited to trading a choice of first round in 2028 or 2029, but they have more role players and young players to offer. A combination of Marcus Morris† Norman Powell† Luke Kennard† Robert Covingtonand Reggie Jackson can get there. They can also offer Terence Mann or Brandon Boston Jr. to add more value to their package.
The Mavericks have many different contracts that they can use to get the $30-34 million it takes to match Irving, such as a combination of Spencer Dinwiddie† Tim Hardaway Jr., Davis Bertansand Dwight Powell† One of the more creative avenues they can take to get there is a sign-and-trade sending Brunson to Brooklyn or a third team, though base year compensation would complicate that scenario. Dallas may offer up to three future first-round picks in 2025 (first available concept language), 2027 and 2029 to bolster their offerings.
The Sixers on Irving’s list are mind-boggling given the events leading up to… James Harden ask from Brooklyn. Tobias Harris would have to go back to match the salaries, but would have no other assets than: Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybullea after giving the Nets their remaining tradable first-round picks for Harden.
It’s hard to take this list too seriously, given the number of hoops it takes to jump through to get Irving to one of these teams. This is especially true when you consider that Irving’s alternative to reaching one of these teams would be by accepting the mid-level exception. That would mean a pay cut of up to $30 million, and he wouldn’t have enough rights to re-sign for the maximum the next off-season.
Who has the leverage? And what’s at stake?
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images).
In the short term, it looks like the Nets are holding the cards. The main thing the Nets can ride on is the fact that no competitive teams are expected to generate cap space to sign Irving outright. None of the teams listed as Irving’s affiliations can afford him near maximum contract during the off-season. Getting to one of these teams will require Brooklyn’s help in a trade, where they may not be inclined to help, especially if Irving signs up and is under contract for another year.
If Irving opts out, he could put himself in a position for a significant pay cut in the strong scenario of no other maximum offer available. The safer choice would be to sign, especially as he could avoid free agency in 2023 by extending his current deal anytime over the course of next season. His maximum renewal fee is estimated at four years, $196.2 million. If traded, he would be limited for six months to a two-year extension worth $78.6 million.
But even if the Nets bet on Irving joining in, they might just buy themselves a little time. He has already shown that he doesn’t shy away from losing millions of dollars by not playing when he was fined for every home game he didn’t qualify for due to New York’s vaccination requirement. If he really wants a trade, they may have to give him one or risk being unavailable.
If Irving is in the picture longer and Durant asks for a trade, they can start rebuilding right away. Their goal, then, could be to acquire more than enough draft equity and young players to make up for the lost assets they gave up for Harden. Brooklyn already sent Houston the 17th overall pick (Tari Eason) in this year’s draft, and they owe unprotected first-round picks in 2024 and 2026. They also owe Houston choice swaps in 2023, 2025, and 2027.
The Nets have already made up some ground by acquiring Ben Simmons and two first-round picks from the Sixers. One pick is in 2023 and the other is in 2027, which can be delayed until 2028. Its value has yet to be determined, but Simmons can regain a lot of trade value if he gets healthy and picks up where he left off playing on All Star- level. Simmons is also young enough to see a rebuild of Nets and be part of their next competitive team.
Durant was still considered the best player in the league at 34, which isn’t a statement we thought we were saying three years ago after his Achilles injury. Most playoff teams should be interested in acquiring him and he should have enough value to dominate all the available future first round rosters and talented young players a team could offer.