The 2021-22 NBA season didn't go according to plan for the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving took most of the blame for it. He was unavailable for months, and It wasn't until the end of the campaign that he finally came back in a full-time role.
Irving's reluctance to get the Covid-19 vaccine prevented him from showing up at the Barclays Center for much of the season due to New York's vaccine mandate, while the team took its time before allowing him to at least play road games.
That eventually took its toll in the Nets, who had to sweat to make the playoffs via the play-in tournament only to be swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round. Irving has a player option ahead of next season, and despite many expected the team to part ways with him, an extension seems likely at this point.
Rumor: Kyrie Irving would sign an extension with Nets
Irving joined Brooklyn in the summer of 2019 hoping to help the team win a coveted title, something he has so far failed to do. Even so, the Nets are reportedly not ready to give up on their championship aspirations with Kyrie.
(Via Brian Lewis of New York Post)
"But Irving is still not only close friends with Kevin Durant, but maintains a good relationship with team owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai. The Post reported last month that a return to Brooklyn appeared a fait accompli, and sentiment around the league is Irving will re-sign.
“I agree most [likely] he comes back,” a league-source well-versed in the salary cap told The Post. “As for a contract, I’d probably try to get him back at an annual rate at what he is currently making. They could give him a contract below the max with unlikely incentives that allows him to reach the max. Unlikely incentives are capped at 15 percent of a player’s salary in a given year. So they can make his salary 15 percent less than the max, then give incentives to allow him to get the full max. He would have to opt out and negotiate a new contract with those new incentives.”
“I agree that he will be back,” ex-Nets assistant GM and current ESPN Insider Bobby Marks told The Post, suggesting, “A contract that includes games played doesn’t trigger every season as it relates to his salary.”
At the end of the day, Kyrie Irving can still bring a lot to the table. While the Nets have their reasons to be upset with him, they are simply a better team when he's on the floor. Besides, it's much easier to build around him and Kevin Durant than starting from scratch again.