The Nets can also play the game of NBA brinksmanship.
For days it seemed like Kyrie Irving has been the one who turned up the pressure and tested the nets’ determination not only to give him the maximum (years, not just money† Irvings camp started talking about signing up and tradingand went so far that set up a list of destinations he wants to play† Irving’s camp also brought (intentionally or unintentionally) the threat of Kevin Durant also go to the table† Irving’s biggest lever has always been that he didn’t give him the contract he wanted would blow up the great experiment of the Nets†
The Nets can live with that.
“They would rather lose them both than go through what they went through last season, which was a miserable season given the situation Kyrie Irving has created.”
The Nets also told Irving to go ahead and seek a trade he wanted (although it has to work for Brooklyn too). Irving reportedly wants to go to the Lakers to team up with LeBron James again, but the Nets won’t take it Russell Westbrook back, making a transaction insanely difficult to realize. Irving could go to the Lakers for the $6.4 million taxpayer exemption, but that would leave more than $30 million on the table next season (and possibly future money if he wants to re-sign with the Lakers).
Nets owner Joseph Tsai and GM Sean Marks are smart guys — when they first drew a line in the sand and said they wouldn’t offer Irving a long-term contract, they knew it could end this way. There’s no chance the idea of Irving and Durant’s departure wasn’t discussed before going down this road. But Tsai was frustrated by his team’s financial losses — which will mean an additional $100 million in luxury taxes on profits — and got no return. In addition, Tsai was a strong believer in vaccines, and Irving opposed it.
The Nets knew what they were doing. They have made it clear that they will not flinch in this chicken game. If Irving wants to leave for a lot less money, then so be it. But the Nets want some control back over their team and their situation, and they’re going to get it somehow.
The big test comes Wednesday (June 29), when Irving must pick up his $36.9 million option for next season or become an unrestricted free agent (in a market with very little cap space).