So much for that short-lived scenario.
It appears Kyrie Irving will not be a Los Angeles Laker this season. In just a shocking turn of events, even he couldn’t say no to a $36 million player option and will reportedly opt-in to the final year of his deal with the Nets, according to multiple reports. And with no sign-and-trade options apparent, Irving is committing to playing in Brooklyn next season.
Kyrie Irving: “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.” https://t.co/rpiS8YkSZI— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 27, 2022
Without the ability to find a sign-and-trade deal, Kyrie Irving plans to exercise his $36M player option for next season and return to the Nets, sources confirm. https://t.co/ShNgQETZpy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2022
Ultimately, taking a $30 million pay cut just wasn’t something Kyrie was willing to do to shift from one coast to the other and team up with LeBron James once again. It’s not an entirely shocking decision given common sense, even if it is Kyrie Irving.
While technically the Lakers could still pull off a trade for Kyrie, the phrasing of his statement and the report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN seems to pretty much indicate that he intends to play out the final year of his deal with the Nets. As reported earlier on Monday, Irving had time to evaluate his sign-and-trade options, but only the Lakers who expressed interest.
However, the attraction was not mutual, as the Lakers would only have been able to match Kyrie’s salary with Russell Westbrook’s, while Nets considered any trade centered around Westbrook a non-starter, resulting in Kyrie going back to the Nets without a deal. Effectively, the Nets called his bluff that he could not find a suitable trade and would also not turn down $30 million to walk, and guessed right.
Although Kyrie’s leverage play didn’t work, this isn’t the first time someone has used the Lakers as leverage and it certainly won’t be the last, even if this was one of the weirder ones in recent memory.
Now, the Lakers move forward as if the last week of Kyrie drama never took place. In all likelihood, they’ll return to attempting to manufacture leverage for a Westbrook trade and try to find viable wings in a barren market with few avenues to do so.
They’re back to making the best out of a bad situation, but what a whirlwind of a week of rumors and reports it was.