The future seemed unclear for Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. After the Star Guard endured the 2021-2022 season, cut off from the team for more than half the year due to his vaccination status, Irving was allowed to go back and play part-time at Brooklyn until the rules finally changed.
While Irving didn’t skip a step on his return, his presence wasn’t enough to help the Nets progress through the first round of the playoffs. After four games in the 2022 playoffs, the Nets were eliminated by eventual Eastern Conference champions the Boston Celtics.
Once Brooklyn’s season ended, Irving’s future was in question. With a player option on his contract for next season, Irving had a crucial decision to make. The all-star guard could return to Brooklyn for the 2022-2023 season and earn over $36 million.
Or Irving could go to the open market and strike another deal with another team. The market was dry for Irving, but the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in reuniting Irving and LeBron James. However, LA’s financial situation made it difficult to make the dream a reality.
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After several days of speculation, Irving finally shocked the basketball world and exercised his option for next season. Although it was obvious the Nets would continue to look for a trading partner to get Irving off their hands, according to Ian Begley, the relationship between Irving and the Nets no longer seems as strained as it once seemed SNY.
“A source close to Irving said this week that the seven-time All-Star is in a good place with the Nets and feels comfortable heading into the 2022-23 season. If the Nets bring back Irving and Durant, they will have one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference on paper. Irving, Durant, Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Harris, Seth Curry and Nic Claxton and the other returning/recruiting Nets make a strong lineup.”
With Kevin Durant still awaiting a trade and Irving’s situation teetering everywhere, it’s unclear what Brooklyn will look like when the Philadelphia 76ers take on them next season.
The two rivals in the Atlantic Division will meet for the first time in the preseason in early October in their opening games. Then they will meet at least four times in the regular season, with the dates of those encounters yet to be announced.
It seemed like the last time the Sixers saw Irving in a Nets jersey was in the 2021-2022 season, but as time flies and trade offers are nowhere to be found, the Nets may very well have Irving on board for next season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him on Twitter for live updates: @JGrasso_.