Kyrie Irving wants out: Where the Nets go from here
Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Nets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. It’s been a volatile season for Irving which started with controversy that led to a suspension. Irving and the team managed to overcome a dysfunctional start to the season and go on a run that has them currently with a 31-20 record.
The Nets will now have to decide whether to honor Irving’s trade request and get some value for him or continue their title pursuit and risk losing him in free agency.
Why Irving wants out
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Irving’s trade request is the result of not coming to terms on an extension agreement, according to Bleacher Reports’ Chris Haynes. The Nets can currently extend Irving for up to four years, $196.2 million, though he’s unlikely to get close to that total amount in dollars or years.
In fact, according to Charnaia, the Nets offered Irving an extension with guarantee stipulations. Irving reportedly declined it and did not receive the offer well. After two years of unavailability for non-basketball reasons, the Nets are probably better off testing the market on him before committing to anything.
Irving has a 15 percent trade bonus that will prorate down to $1.9 million on the February 9 trade deadline. If he’s moved and he doesn’t waive that bonus, his new team will be limited to extending him for up to two years, $83.3 million. He could earn more in free agency, up to four years, projected at $272 million via Bird rights. Due to the lack of logical suitors with cap space for this offseason, it makes more financial sense for Irving to secure a trade now so his new team inherits his Bird rights.
The Lakers are the obvious suitor that first comes to mind in regard to Irving. If they can acquire him now in a deal, they wouldn’t be a cap space team anymore provided they re-sign him. This would allow them to operate over the cap and have more spending power, giving them the option to re-sign several of their own free agents and have access to a larger mid-level exception.
Any Irving trade to the Lakers would have to include Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring salary, but it’s unclear if the Nets have the appetite for it and their $108 million luxury tax penalty projection without Irving. A third team like the Spurs may have to get involved, which could potentially help get the Nets out of the luxury tax entirely. Such a deal could cost the Lakers both of their only two available first-round picks to trade in 2027 and 2029 to accommodate each team.