Kyrie Irving will opt into the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, according to Shams Charania. Irving could have opted out and become an unrestricted free agent this offseason free to explore the marketplace for his services. Instead, he will earn $37 million next season to remain in Brooklyn.
"Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow," Irving said, according to Charania. "I've made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even."
Irving's decision technically does not prevent the Nets from seeking a trade, but Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Irving was unable to find a home through a sign-and-trade. Charania reported that there were multiple opt-in and trade scenarios that Irving and the Nets are bypassing, and it appears as though Irving will at least begin next season in Brooklyn.
Irving will still be eligible to sign a long-term extension with the Nets up until June 30, but he will otherwise be slated for 2023 free agency. Irving's inability to secure a long-term extension from the Nets is part of what fueled the rumors of a possible departure. Irving missed the beginning of last season and most of Brooklyn's home games due to a New York City vaccine mandate that has now been lifted.
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Irving's return likely puts an end to any possibility of a Kevin Durant trade as well. The two close friends joined the Nets together in 2019, and Durant had reportedly been considering his future if Irving had left. Durant, unlike Irving, has four years left on his contract and was not able to leave in free agency.
The Nets already lost one star last season when James Harden forced his way to Philadelphia. Had they lost a second in Irving, they might have fallen out of the championship picture entirely just three years after landing their first two stars. But now, with Irving and Durant seemingly back in the fold and Ben Simmons set to return to the court next season, the Nets should be among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.