The Brooklyn Nets included about $1 million in yearly performance-based incentives into maximum contracts for both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, a tweak that allowed them to maneuver to fit contracts for DeAndre Jordan and second-round pick Nicolas Claxton into cap space, according to contract data obtained by ESPN. Both deals have player options in their fourth seasons, meaning Durant and Irving can hit free agency again in the summer of 2022.
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Irving’s contract is especially interesting: eight separate incentives — $125,000 each, all deemed “unlikely” — and thus not included in Irving’s current cap hit. Irving’s initial salary for 2019-20 is $31,720,000 — exactly $1 million short of his maximum. Hitting all eight bonuses would make up the difference.
Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t surprised Irving, Durant and even DeAndre Jordan chose the Nets. Jordan was Smith’s teammate in Dallas and New York last season. “I wasn’t surprised, to be honest with you. People in the league talk anyway. They just keep it private. People in the league talk,” Smith said. “They’re great players but I like what we have, to be honest with you. I know there are a lot of hecklers out there and talking this that and the third. But I like what we have and I’m not really concerned with what’s going on in Brooklyn.”
Brian Lewis: Kyrie Irving on his own Instagram feed about joining the #Nets team he grew up in Jersey rooting for: “In my heart I knew I always wanted to play at home, and home is where my heart is.” #NBA @kyrieirving instagram.com/tv/BzYWRC-nAkA…
Anthony Puccio: Kyrie Irving’s post on Instagram 1 hour ago: “The journey is the reward” “Eye only know what’s best for me…” “Family first.” pic.twitter.com/Qv8IQSuRTT
Chris Grenham: Bobby Marks just said on The Jump that the three-team deal between Boston, Charlotte and Brooklyn is “dead.” Cited the Nets lack of incentive as reasoning
Free-agent All-NBA star Kevin Durant plans to sign a four-year, $164 million contract to play for the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told ESPN. Durant will join free agents Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, who also plan to sign with the franchise, league sources said.
Durant will miss next season with his Achilles tear but Irving will join a club that made the playoffs last season. Durant will be 32 when he returns from his injury. One NBA source said the Knicks weren’t 100 percent sold on Irving as a solo man if he didn’t also come with Durant. The Knicks had some concerns about Irving’s leadership after the Celtics had internal strife.
Alex Kennedy: Kyrie Irving has talked to some veteran role players to gauge their interest in joining Nets. I’m hearing Irving talked to Iman Shumpert to see if he’d want to join BKN. Irving and Shumpert played together in CLE and won title in 2016. Shumpert has interest from other teams too.
Marks has them perfectly positioned as a top-tier free agent destination with nearly $69 million in salary cap room and a talented young core group remaining from a 42-40 playoff team. Multiple NBA sources have indicated to Newsday that point guard Kyrie Irving is a virtual certainty to sign with the Nets, and it could happen quickly because Irving reportedly has been courting forward Kevin Durant and can signal his commitment by agreeing to a maximum-salary deal worth $141 million over four years.
Six-time All-Star free agent guard Kyrie Irving is meeting with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in New York with both sides motivated to reach a deal on a four-year, $141 million maximum contract, league sources told ESPN. Irving, who’s leaving the Boston Celtics, is a part of a bold two-part plan to acquire Irving and All-NBA forward Kevin Durant in free agency, league sources tell ESPN.
Durant remains interested with the Nets and is expected to speak with them this week, sources said. Irving and Durant have built a strong relationship.
Multiple NBA sources have indicated to Newsday that point guard Kyrie Irving is a virtual certainty to sign with the Nets, and it could happen quickly because Irving reportedly has been courting forward Kevin Durant and can signal his commitment by agreeing to a maximum-salary deal worth $141 million over four years.
The Nets are focused on adding a point guard-power forward combination. Although early reports said they would consider pairing Irving and restricted free agent All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell, an NBA source told Newsday that is unlikely. Marks plans on landing two top-tier stars, and the gaping hole at power forward is a prime concern.
Durant and Leonard are planning to talk with each of those teams once free agency opens Sunday at 6 PM ET, league sources said. Leonard and Durant are each planning discussions and meetings with several teams, but only Clippers and Knicks are in alignment with salary cap space and common interest to sign both players. Brooklyn could conceivably house both, but a more likely scenario would be Durant and point guard Kyrie Irving signing as free agents with the Nets. Brooklyn is firmly Irving’s focus in free agency, league sources said.
Meanwhile, All-Star Kyrie Irving is fully focused on a potential deal with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources have told The Athletic. League sources say the Nets’ goals center upon forming a trio of Irving, Durant and free-agent center DeAndre Jordan. That is part of the intrigue in Brooklyn, the ability to take one commitment from Irving and turn it into the capability to sign all three. A trio of that magnitude should compete for multiple NBA championships in the Eastern Conference.
On Jan. 9, the Celtics blitzed the Indiana Pacers at home, then flew out that night to Miami, arriving at the team hotel after 2 a.m. on Thursday. Boston was set to play the Miami Heat that night, but, team sources said, that didn’t stop some of the young players from heading to South Beach, where the clubs stay open well past 5 a.m. It’s not uncommon for NBA players to go out when they’re on the road, but Irving was irked teammates decided to do it in the middle of back-to-back games. The Celtics ended up submitting a lackluster effort in a 115-99 drubbing at the hands of the Heat.
If people actually believe Boston’s implosion was all Kyrie Irving’s fault, they weren’t paying attention. “It wasn’t just him,” says former Celtic Cedric Maxwell, the team’s radio analyst. “This group was the most dysfunctional team I’ve seen since 1983, when we had four Hall of Famers on our roster and got swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. These guys never found a way to be on the same page.”
Stevens had regular discussions with Irving throughout the season, and Kyrie once praised Stevens as “a great basketball mind.” By season’s end, Irving had publicly questioned his coach’s tactics and management of the roster. “Kyrie really put Brad through the ringer,” one Celtics staffer noted. Stevens repeatedly blamed himself for his team’s mounting losses, vowing to do better, while his coaches became increasingly concerned about the toll it was exacting on their head coach. “He really beat himself up for how things went,” says Micah Shrewsberry, who left the Celtics to become Purdue’s associate head coach. “I know right now Brad’s watching every game 10 times over trying to figure out what he can do better.”
“I want Kyrie to find happiness,” Stevens says. “If he does move on, I wish him nothing but good health and success. I saw a lot of great qualities in him.” Those qualities have been muted by the scorn of a jilted fan base that feels duped and betrayed by its point guard and his soon-to-be former teammates, who seemingly were assembled for a memorable title run. “I really don’t think it’s anyone’s fault,” Stevens says. “If you blame anyone, it’s me. I’m the guy who couldn’t fit the pieces.”
Marc Stein: Kyrie Irving remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, league sources say, now that the Lakers are sure they can open maximum cap space. They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed Irving to Brooklyn …
With four days to go before free agency, members of the Knicks organization still believe they have a chance to sign their top targets: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.
Multiple sources throughout the NBA believe Irving is leaning toward signing a four-year, $141 million deal with Brooklyn once free agency starts Sunday. And those sources universally agree he’s leaving Boston, — with those bridges not just burned, but bombed into rubble.
Though the Nets clearly aren’t unaware of all the drama that went down in Boston or the reputation that precedes Irving, their dream scenario remains signing both he and Kevin Durant.
The Knicks also are hopeful for a free-agent meeting with 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, according to a source, and have interest in New York City native Kemba Walker and New Jersey native Kyrie Irving.
For weeks, most plugged-in reporters have pegged Brooklyn as Kyrie Irving’s preferred choice. With free agency less than a week away, that still appears true, per sources across the league.
Mark Murphy: Smart surprised by apparent departures of Irving and Horford, but looks forward to re-setting the culture.
A majority of the executives — about 75 percent — said that on talent alone Irving was still worth $8 million to $10 million more than Russell. But about half of those said if the salary gap widened to that level, concerns about chemistry would have them leaning toward sticking with Russell in scenarios that do not include Durant.
Durant and Irving, league sources say, have met twice in recent weeks to discuss their desire to continue their careers on the same team, an idea forged while playing together on the U.S. national team. The first meeting took place in the Bay Area while Durant nursed a strained right calf; the second occurred in New York shortly after Durant had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Irving, meanwhile, also recently purchased a new home in South Orange, New Jersey, but league sources say he is pressing Durant to join him with the Nets and is trying to recruit Jordan as well. Durant did have his Achilles repaired by a Nets team physician, Dr. Martin O’Malley, but the New York Post’s Mark Fischer quoted one of O’Malley’s medical colleagues warning not to read too much into that.
The chance to form a star powerhouse in Los Angeles may be enough to entice someone like Irving to team up once again with James, even if he’s getting a slight haircut in starting salary. The buzz around the league, however, is that Irving will leave the Boston Celtics to sign with the Brooklyn Nets (“the worst-kept secret of the summer,” according to one executive), possibly to team up with Kevin Durant despite his Achilles injury.
Jackie MacMullan: “Kyrie Irving didn’t like Boston. I’ve been told this by many people. He didn’t like living in Boston. He just didn’t.”
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan explained Irving’s disdain for the city on the “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast. “Kyrie Irving didn’t like Boston,” MacMullan said. “I’ve been told this by many people. He didn’t like living in Boston. He just didn’t. By the end, he had issues with Brad [Stevens]. By the end, he had issues with Danny [Ainge]. By the end, he had issues with pretty much all of us.”
“One thing I’m told is he is really focused on making his decision independently of anyone else and that includes Kyrie Irving,” said Wojnarowski. “He’s at a point in his career where he’s going to decide really essentially on a four-year deal elsewhere or a five-year deal with Golden State, where he’s going to spend the rest of his prime.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Boston has offered center Aron Baynes — $5.4M expiring contract — into salary cap space elsewhere, league sources tell ESPN. Without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford on the books, moving Baynes without taking back salary could get the Celtics to $23M in space.
The question is if they can’t land Durant, do they still want Irving? Especially if they have to lose D’Angelo Russell — their own 23-year-old homegrown All-Star — to get him? It’s a question that has turned into a civil war among the fan base. It also has become an internal debate the Nets are having right now. The Post has confirmed Brooklyn might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving if he isn’t bringing the injured Durant with him.
Sources close to both the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving believe they’re “close” to a done deal – if it’s not already done. Brooklyn’s goal is to nab Irving and pair him up with Kevin Durant, who will be sidelined for the duration of the 2019-2020 season. “Everything I’ve heard is that it’s a done deal,” one source close to both sides said about Kyrie and the Nets.
Multiple Nets players, members of the staff and sources close to Kyrie’s camp have told NetsDaily they believe Irving will be Brooklyn’s point guard come October and if that’s the case, Russell is unlikely to return.
Word is that the Nets’ guard Spencer Dinwiddie, after a breakout season on the floor, has had a significant role in recruiting Irving to Brooklyn. Irving’s recent decision to change his representation to Roc Nation, with its well-chronicled ties to the Nets through Jay-Z, has only amplified the notion that the Nets are the overwhelming favorites to land Irving.
Kyrie Irving’s expected free agent departure for Brooklyn, reported here last week, is not said to have had any effect on Horford’s decision. As well, Horford and multiple people around him have insisted he is happy with Boston and the Celtics’ organization. This therefore appears to simply be a move for a better chance at a championship with a club willing to pay him more on a longer term contract.
Shams Charania: The Boston Celtics are preparing for strong scenario that All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will leave as free agents, league sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: Irving has been communicative and forthright with top Celtics officials since the season ended, with private and public signals that he will leave the organization in free agency — likely for the Brooklyn Nets, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
The strangest part of the Irving situation right now is that it appears he has essentially ghosted on the Celtics. The people within the organization I have spoken with have made it clear that they have had little, if any, communication with Irving in recent weeks. There had been some hope that trading for Davis would have given the Celtics a new vision to sell to Irving. But that, clearly, is not an option anymore.
There has mostly been radio silence from Irving’s camp, and that could be partly because his camp has undergone a makeover. Irving last week fired his longtime agent, Jeff Wechsler, and reportedly intends to sign with Roc Nation Sports. The Athletic reported Monday that Irving and the Celtics could meet sometime before the draft. Obviously the Celtics would like to have some idea about his plans before deciding how to use their picks.
Irving, if you have not noticed, certainly marches to his own beat. I think he is planning to leave, but it also wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world if he just re-signed with Boston, looked around, and said, “What was all the fuss about? I told you guys in October I was coming back.”
Chris Grenham: Woj says on @SportsCenter that the Celtics are “almost to the point of resignation” that Kyrie is going to leave. Also reaffirmed that the Celtics will try to trade at least one of their three first-round picks.
All-Star Kyrie Irving, who has decided to opt out of his $21.3 million deal for next season to become a free agent, and top Celtics officials will meet soon to discuss his future, league sources said. A potential meeting could occur before Thursday’s NBA draft sources said, as both sides could look for clarity ahead of the start of free agency on June 30.
Nets Daily: ICYMI, here’s what @Adrian Wojnarowski told @Ryen Russillo podcast over the weekend re Kyrie Irving, “He is pretty focused on Brooklyn right now and Boston I think is losing a grip on him if not already heaving lost a grip on him. I think they’ve known that for a while.”
Multiple Nets players and members of the staff tell NetsDaily they believe they’ll be playing with Irving this upcoming season … and not D’Angelo Russell. There’s belief within the organization that Kyrie is nearly a “done deal” and if that’s the case, Russell is unlikely to return.
Yes, the Celts still tried to negotiate a trade with New Orleans, but according to a Pelicans source, the offers were understandably never as good as intimated back when there was still a reasonable belief Irving could be kept. In that scenario, it was presumed the Celtics would have opened their asset locker wider to take a shot at an Irving-Davis ticket for 2019-20, hoping that success would entice the latter to remain for a longer term.
Because of salary cap rules, if the trade is consummated in late July, the Lakers would have the space to add another maximum contract. That cap space could be used on players like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, all-star point guards who will be free agents. That scenario would require the Lakers to draft the fourth overall pick for the Pelicans, or whatever team has its rights by the time of the draft, then sign that player as quickly as possible. League rules do not allow a signed draft pick to be traded for 30 days, which would make July 20 the earliest date the trade could be consummated.
The Lakers have a lot more work to do, of course. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, Kemba Walker will be their top free-agent target. (Don’t bank on Kyrie Irving reuniting with LeBron. League sources fully expect him to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.)
Ric Bucher: “I’m told Kevin Durant is out of the hospital, moved into a hotel for the time being in the New York area and him and Kyrie have met and have continued to discuss playing together next season. KD has moved all his stuff and will spend his summer in New York… Every indication says KD is making plans to be elsewhere because obviously Kyrie will not be joining the Warriors any time soon.”
Jordan Clarkson: DLO to PHX KYRIE TO BRKLYN JULIUS TO BRKLYN
According to Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, the Durant-Irving pairing idea still has legs and New York seems to be where the landing spot will be. “I’m told Kevin Durant has moved all his stuff to New York and will spend the summer there,” Bucher said on The Herd. “He and Kyrie have met and have continued to discuss playing together… Every indication says KD is making plans to be elsewhere.”
As of late this week, teams interested in pursuing Kyrie Irving remained under the impression that the Nets were the odds-on favorite to land the point guard, per sources. But no team interested in Irving, including the Knicks and Lakers, had been led to believe that they are out of the running to sign him, those sources say.
It is quite a balancing act, and there are no firm answers yet, but it is clear that so far things have not progressed as the team was once hoping. According to league sources, the Celtics’ belief that Irving will re-sign with them after free agency opens on June 30 has eroded.
There is still some hope within the organization that Irving will have a change of heart if Boston is able to acquire Davis. And Irving’s fickle personality certainly makes anything possible until he officially agrees to terms with some team.
But the likelihood of an Irving return appears to be decreasing. Nevertheless, the sources said, it is clear that the Celtics’ pursuit of Davis will push forward.
Although the tenuous situation may have affected the Celtics’ trade offers so far, the sources said Boston remains quite interested in Davis, regardless of Irving’s future. There has been some suggestion that the Pelicans will push to complete a deal soon so they will have more time to evaluate prospects they could select with whatever draft picks they receive in trade. But a league source said that notion has been overblown, and that New Orleans is confident in its multiyear evaluation process of current prospects.
Yossi Gozlan: Knicks exercising Trier for 2019-20 knocks down maximum cap space from $73.2M to $70.5M. Still enough to sign Irving and Durant to maximum deals. Also, pathway to sign both and trade for Anthony Davis still in play.
Asked if he has directly asked Irving to come back, the Celtics co-owner said, “I haven’t talked to Kyrie in those terms, and our two free agent negotiators are Brad and Danny (Ainge). But Kyrie knows how we feel about him, that we feel very positive about him, and the discussions will go on over the next few weeks.”
Should Irving leave, and the team’s bid for an Anthony Davis trade fall through, then short of moving ahead with what’s left, Danny Ainge’s creativity will be tested like never before. Though he wouldn’t share specifics, Grousbeck has admittedly heard some fairly exotic scenarios being discussed. “There’s definitely scenarios being spun inside the basketball office,” he said. “I’m there every day listening to them, that involve a number of players. I’ve heard a lot of scenarios. We’ll just see what happens.”
According to a source with ties to Roc Nation, the organization expected to become Irving’s new representative, the All-Star point guard is prepared to sign with the Brooklyn Nets when he becomes a free agent next month. A separate league source told the Herald that his team (not the Celtics) has received the same information and is operating under the belief that Irving wants to join the Nets.
To be fair to the situation, any story involving Irving needs to contain a disclaimer. While the two sources cited in the second paragraph are to be trusted, most anything involving Irving should be seen as a fluid matter. Nothing can be truly settled until a contract is signed, and that cannot take place until the NBA moratorium ends on July 6 at noon Eastern Time. And, as Celtic followers have come to know, Irving remains eminently capable of changing his mind.
At present, the Durant situation appears to be having no bearing on Irving. As reported here last month, a Golden State source said that Irving had definitely spoken to Durant about teaming up once they became free agents. Another source in that story said the problem was that Irving wanted Brooklyn, while Durant was leaning hard to the Knicks.
The Celtics have known from the start that the All-Star point guard will not be accepting the $21,329,752 for next season and will look to sign a longer term deal. The club is not waiting on the deadline, in that Irving does not have to opt out; the final year on the contract is removed if he does nothing. According to multiple league sources, Irving still has not removed the Celtics from consideration as he contemplates where to sign as a free agent, though the assumption around the NBA was he was looking to go elsewhere to join up with another marquee free agent. That concept was placed in some measure of doubt when Kevin Durant — the most prominent of the potential 2019 free agents — suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday night.
But thanks to general manager Sean Marks paying a heavy price to clear Crabbe’s contract — one of his few mistakes since taking the job — the Nets have $68 million to spend if they renounce point guard D’Angelo Russell, and $48 million even including his cap hold. Sources have said the Nets would consider pairing Russell with Irving, and Kevin Boyle — who coached both in high school — insists they’re friends and would thrive together. Russell liked and commented on an Instagram post showing his jersey next to an Irving Nets jersey.
Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving is changing representation and expected to partner with Roc Nation Sports, league sources told ESPN. Irving parted ways with longtime agent Jeff Wechsler on Wednesday, clearing the way for him to ultimately work with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation prior to the start of free agency on June 30, sources said.
Irving, a six-time All-Star, will become an unrestricted free agent and league sources say that he remains intensely interested in the Brooklyn Nets. The New York Knicks are expected to remain competitive for Irving too, sources tell ESPN.
Bobby Marks: Boston is still not allowed to do a Davis trade until after July 1 because of the Designated Rookie Extension Rule. Kyrie Irving is not a free agent until June 30 @ 6PM EST. Both sides can negotiate a framework of a deal and verbally agree.
Adrian Wojnarowski: So far, Boston has been undeterred in pursuing Davis — despite his agent insisting AD would be a 2020 flight risk in free agency. For Boston, Davis could still be its best case to keep Kyrie Irving. Story soon on ESPN.com
The Knicks had also planned to pursue Kyrie Irving this summer. But teams monitoring Irving’s situation remain under the impression that, if he chooses to leave Boston, the Brooklyn Nets are currently the most likely destination for Irving, per sources.
However, Adrian Wojnarowski noted on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo that Durant’s injury is most likely going to affect Kyrie Irving’s decision. “I think the one player it really impacts is Kyrie Irving,” said Woj. “because both the Knicks and the Nets hoped that Kyrie and KD could be a package deal, that they could sign them. Both [teams] are in a position to sign them. And Kyrie Irving certainly has a significant interest in being back in New York. If he leaves Boston, that’s the top of his list and he, I’ve been told, is really focused on Brooklyn if he was to sign with one of the New York teams. “So now the question is, for the Nets, for the Knicks, is would you sign Kyrie Irving as a solo act or would Kevin Durant want to come and essentially be a red shirt.”
Mike Cherry: Kyrie Irving jerseys are the only #Celtics gear on sale for 50% at Modell’s in Manchester, NH. That’s a pretty clear indicator that retailers aren’t confident in his return.
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September 23, 2021 | 9:41 pm EDT Update
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