Sports | May 26, 2022 9:40 am

If Nets Are “Outright Unwilling” on Kyrie Irving Extension, Kevin Durant Is Too

Brooklyn would not be making a decision on Irving's long-term future with the team without consulting with their best player

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at FedExForum in Memphis. A new report from the New York Daily News suggests that the Brooklyn Nets are "outright unwilling" to give Irving a long-term extension.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at FedExForum in Memphis.
Justin Ford/Getty

After being unceremoniously swept out of the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics despite entering the postseason as one of the favorites to win the NBA championship, the Brooklyn Nets are tasked with retooling their roster this offseason with pieces that will fit superstar Kevin Durant and late-season acquisition Ben Simmons.

Given he was one of the reasons Durant wanted to join the Nets in the first place after making championship runs with the Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving would certainly have to be one of those pieces, right?

Well, perhaps not. A new report from the New York Daily News states that a league source believes the organization, already hesitant about Irving given his unpredictable injury history and questionable personal decision-making with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine, is now “outright unwilling” to offer him a long-term extension. You would have to assume — given that he signed a four-year, $198 million deal with the team last August and must be kept happy lest he ask out of town — that Durant is outright unwilling to sign off on Brooklyn offering his teammate a long-term deal to return.

To be clear, the Nets will be better off with Irving next season and should hope that he picks up his $36.9 million player option and returns to make another run at a ring with Durant, Simmons and a revamped Nets roster. But if Irving turns down his option and becomes a free agent, the Nets have every reason to be gun-shy about offering him a long-term deal.

Next season will mark the fourth since Durant and Irving joined the Nets to form a superteam. In the three seasons since that happened, the Nets have a pair of first-round exits in the playoffs and one appearance in the second round to show for it. That is not, whether he’ll say it or not, what Durant signed up for.

Not saying anything, aside from it being on social media, is somewhat in Durant’s wheelhouse and the Daily News reports he hasn’t had talks with the Nets front office since Brooklyn was swept out of the first round. That doesn’t mean that someone from Durant’s camp hasn’t reached out to let the team know what sort of offseason play he wants the club to run with Irving. As Durant, who is headed into his 16th season in the NBA and doesn’t have too many kicks left at the can, probably realizes three years into a partnership with one of the NBA’s best players and (seemingly) worst teammates, anything outside of a short-term deal for Irving could be a big long-term mistake.