Duke basketball star holds fate of NBA offseason in his fingertips

Duke basketball point guard Kyrie Irving (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball point guard Kyrie Irving (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports) /

The fate of the NBA in 2022-23 rests in the hands of a former Duke basketball superstar. 

It is never a dull moment surrounding the former Duke basketball sensation Kyrie Irving and the former No. 1 overall pick has the NBA waiting for his next move.

Irving is reportedly disgruntled in Brooklyn and is likely on the way out.

The seven-time All Star has until Wednesday to either accept or decline his $36.5 million player option.

If the former Blue Devil opts into the deal, it is likely that it will be a sign-and-trade with another franchise and if he declines the deal it is likely he will sign a $6 million mid-level exception with a new organization and look to cash in for a maximum contract prior to the 2023-24 season.

Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets in a package deal with Kevin Durant during the 2019 offseason and immediately catapulted the franchise to NBA Championship favorites but never came close to the Finals.

Brooklyn did not have a chance at a title in 2019-20 as Irving was often injured and Durant was ruled out for the season as he recovered from a ruptured achilles tendon. Neither played in the Orlando bubble as the season was suspended due to the pandemic.

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The Nets, after acquiring James Harden in January 2021, saw Irving take an 11-day absence in which he missed seven games after citing needing a metal break in the abbreviated season.

Injuries to Irving and Harden in the postseason saw Brooklyn fall in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Milwaukee Bucks as what looked like a game-winning 3-pointer by Durant was ruled a 2-pointer to tie the game. Milwaukee eventually won in overtime.

More controversy surrounded Kyrie Irving entering the 2021-22 season after he failed to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, something required in order to work in New York.

Irving would have been allowed to play in road games but the Nets, not waiting constant variations in its lineup, did not allow the former NBA Champion to suit up.

Brooklyn finally caved and allowed Irving to only play in road games beginning on January 5 only to see James Harden force a trade off the team on February 10 after having enough of the uncertain within the team.

The Nets acquired Ben Simmons in the deal, who did not play this season.

New York lifted the vaccine mandate on March 25, allowing Irving to play in both home and road contests but it did not make a difference to the Nets, which only qualified for the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament, as Brooklyn was swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics.

Duke basketball star eyeing massive reunion

Many reports, most recently from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that the only team that has serious interest in Kyrie Irving in the Los Angeles Lakers, potentially setting up a reunion with LeBron James.

Irving, according to Wojnarowski, is willing to decline his player option and sign the mid-level exception with the iconic franchise and look for a multi-year deal the following offseason.

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ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on Monday afternoon that Irving’s pending departure from Brooklyn also means that it is likely that Kevin Durant will ask out of the organization, despite recently agreeing to a four-year extension last August.

In three seasons with the Nets, Irving played in a total of 103 games and averaged 27.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game.

Kyrie Irving was also reportedly interested in playing for the Los Angels Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers, according to Wojnarowski.

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