Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets reached an impasse while trying to work out a contract extension, so there’s a chance the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, or New York Knicks could swoop in and add the top-notch point guard to their roster via trade or free agency.

Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets opt-in contract extension Lakers Clippers Knicks trade
Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets defends LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers. The two former teammates could be reunited again if Irving’s contract negotiations with the Nets fizzle out. (Image: Getty)

Irving – the former standout from Duke and the #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft – is a seven-time All-Star.

Since signing with the Nets, Irving only appeared in 103 of 216 games in the regular season due to injuries, personal issues, and his vaccination status. During his three-season tenure in Brooklyn, Irving averaged 27.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game while knocking down 40.4% of his 3-pointers.

“I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” Irving told the press after the Nets were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’re looking for guys that want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, play team basketball, and be available,” said Nets general manager Sean Marks.

Irving wants to sign a max-contract extension with the Nets, but do the Nets want to invest a sizable amount of money in a mercurial point guard who tends to break a lot of rules and, oftentimes, makes his job as a professional athlete secondary to personal issues and social justice matters? The Nets’ biggest fear is that Irving abruptly retires in the middle of a long-term deal.

Opt-in deadline: June 29

Irving has until June 29 to opt-in for a one-year player’s option worth $36.9 million for next season. Otherwise, he’ll become a free agent, at which point, the Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks will all line up to sign him. There’s also a chance that Irving opts in for next season and the Nets trade him to the Lakers, Clippers, or Knicks. The Lakers seem to be the long shot due to their internal issues and the big elephant in the room, Russell Westbrook.

The Lakers would have to work out a trade if they expect to reunite Irving and LeBron James again. Any potential Nets/Lakers trade for Irving would involve a third team like the Oklahoma City Thunder who could take Westbrook off the Lakers’ hands. Irving and LeBron won a title together with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

The Knicks have the cap space to sign Irving in free agency, and they have enough players to work out a trade. The Knicks thought they were going to land Irving and Kevin Durant in free agency three summers ago, but both players spurned the Knicks and signed with the Nets instead.

If the Clippers grab Irving, it would require Irving to opt-in for a one-year deal and then, the Nets and Clippers would have to agree to a trade. The Clippers have a deep bench and enough role players to facilitate a trade with the Nets.

Nets: First-round KO to 2023 title faves

The Celtics didn’t break much of a sweat in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Even though the Nets were a #7 seed, they were still a popular pick to win the NBA championship because of Durant and Irving. However, the dynamic duo couldn’t overcome the Celtics and their imposing switching defense. The Celtics swept the Nets and, eventually, advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, where they eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

The Warriors, Celtics, Nets, and Clippers are all co-favorites to win the 2023 NBA Championship at +600 odds, according to DraftKings. If the Nets lose Irving, they’ll see their title odds slip. If the Clippers add Irving, expect them to become the sole betting favorite with a huge surge in money backing them to win the championship.

The Lakers are +1600 odds and mid-tier favorites to win the 2023 championship, while the Knicks are +22000 odds and the best of the long shots on the futures board.

Last week, we suggested that you “buy” the Clippers and “sell” the Lakers if you want to get involved in the NBA futures market. Kawhi Leonard missed all of last season while rehabbing an ACL injury. He’s returning to the team next season, which makes them a popular pick to win it all. The Clippers have Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann as their point guards, but even that platoon can’t compare to Irving.

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