The 2021-22 NBA season didn't go as expected for the Brooklyn Nets. Not only because of the embarrassing ending to their campaign (they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs), but also because of everything they've gone through before then.
While they struggled to get results for much of the year, they lost one of their biggest stars when James Harden forced his way to the Sixers. On top of that, Kyrie Irving spent months on the sidelines because of his anti-vaxx stance.
Even when he got back to the floor, it took some time before he could play at home. Now, Irving is eligible for a max player extension but it's uncertain whether he'll sign a new deal with the Nets. Therefore, other teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers were mentioned as possible landing spots in case Irving opts out.
Rumor: Lakers are 'most significant threat' for Irving, but it's not that easy
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, if Kyrie were to leave Brooklyn, the Lakers are his most likely destination. However, Woj added that Irving would have to give up a lot of money to choose the Purple and Gold.
"His options outside of the Nets, especially if the Nets are not willing or don't get engaged in trade talks, are limited," Woj said. "Teams with cap space are perhaps not teams he would be interested and I don't think they are interested in him. The Lakers are considered the most significant threat right now for Kyrie Irving, but that would essentially entail him taking $30 million less than he can opt into in Brooklyn."
Even so, it's important to keep in mind that Irving has already given up millions before. As Woj notes, his refusal to get the Covid-19 vaccine cost him nearly $17m last year as well as a huge deal with Nike.
As long as contract talks between Irving and Nets remain in an impasse, his future will continue to draw speculation. For now, these are all just rumors. But they could get serious if nothing changes soon.