Right now, the Brooklyn Nets are in the midst of fighting for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, and recently got the beneficial news that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will be cleared to play in home games for the rest of the season. But looking ahead to the offseason, one major item on Brooklyn's to-do list is securing Irving to a long-term extension.
Irving has a $36.5 million player option that he can decline this summer to become a free agent. Given he's able to make more money by turning down that option and signing a new contract, it's expected that he'll be an unrestricted free agent. But it sounds like the Nets don't have to fear Irving leaving, as he told media Saturday morning that he loves playing in Brooklyn.
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"It has always been about being comfortable loving where I'm at, and I love it here," Irving said. "Once that summertime hits, I know that we'll have some conversations; but there's no way I can leave my man seven anywhere."
Irving is of course referring to teammate Kevin Durant, who wears No. 7 for the Nets, who he came to Brooklyn with in hopes of winning an NBA championship. But that quest to win a championship hasn't been smooth for a Brooklyn team that entered the season as title favorites. In fact, the last three seasons Irving and Durant have spent together with the Nets have been filled with bumps in the road. Between injuries to both Durant and Irving over the past three years, the trade request of James Harden this season and the vaccine mandate that kept Irving sidelined for every home game of the year so far, that duo has only played in 35 regular-season games together.
You could argue that we still haven't seen the full potential of that duo together, which could be enticing for Irving to stay in Brooklyn this summer. Even though it shouldn't take much convincing to play alongside an all-time great talent like Durant, we've seen Irving say he's committed to a team in the past and do something completely different down the road. When Irving was entering the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics during the 2018-19 season, he spoke about how he's thought about having his jersey number hanging in the rafters with the Celtics, and how Boston was the place for him. Once the season concluded he then reversed course and left the Celtics for the Nets.
The difference between his situation with the Nets and the Celtics is that he and Durant chose to play in Brooklyn together because they're close friends, which is why he said he could never leave Durant. But we've seen Irving change his mind before. We'll just have to wait and see this summer if he sticks to his word this time around.