Kyrie Irving's future with the Brooklyn Nets remains uncertain after he and the team are at an "impasse," according to The Athletic's Shams Charania:
"... multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said."
Irving, 30, has until June 29 to pick up a $36.9 million player option to stay with the Nets. If he declines the option, he could reportedly test free agency.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks are among the teams who could be interested in Irving, per Charania. The Lakers and Clippers would likely need to facilitate a sign-and-trade for Irving, while the Knicks could sign Irving outright in free agency.
It's a frightening development for the Nets, who saw Irving in only 29 regular-season games this past season after he declined to take the COVID-19 vaccine. That decision made him ineligible to play at Brooklyn's home games until March 27. He averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and shot 46.9 percent from the field when available and averaged 21.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists during the Nets' lone playoff series.
About an hour after Charania's story landed, Irving tweeted a video of a man laughing. This could be coincidental, or a reference to the "impasse" report. We'll leave that interpretation up for NBA Twitter.
Irving wants a 'managing' role, Nets want 'available' players
There have been conflicting sentiments between Irving and the Nets about their future since Brooklyn was swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Irving said in April he didn't "really plan on going anywhere" but felt he and Kevin Durrant deserved a "managing" role alongside Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks.
"I don't really plan on going anywhere," Irving said. "This is added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years. I'm just looking forward to the summer and building with our guys here."
"When I say I'm here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean, just our group of family members that we have in our locker room and our organization."
The Nets don't appear as committed to Irving. When asked about Irving’s future in mid-May, Marks said they wanted players who “play selfless” and “be available,” perhaps a reference to Irving’s decision to not get vaccinated.
“I think we know what we’re looking for,” Marks said. “We’re looking for guys that want to come in here, be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available. That goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”
In any event, this will be a pivotal offseason for the Nets. The heralded duo of Irving and Durant is now in doubt, even after playing only 44 games together since joining the Nets in 2019. The addition of Ben Simmons at the trade deadline could soften the blow of an Irving departure, but it's unclear how effective the former Philadelphia 76er could be after missing the entire 2021-22 season.
What Irving and the Nets decide could have wide-ranging implications in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn currently has the third-best odds to win the 2022-23 NBA Finals at +700, per BetMGM. That could easily change in the next nine days, though, if Irving and the Nets break up.