Kyrie Irving has ended any speculation or chatter about where he intends to start the 2022-2023 NBA season. On Monday evening, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the talented-yet-mercurial point guard confirmed his return to the Brooklyn Nets with the outlet.
“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving said. “I’ve made my decision to opt-in. See you in the fall.” The news means the 7x All-Star will exercise his $37 million player option instead of encouraging the Nets to pursue any reputed sign-and-trade deals with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or the New York Knicks. And this also ensures the tandem of Irving and Kevin Durant stays together in Brooklyn.
Irving’s time with the Nets has been notoriously unstable since joining the organization three seasons ago, having only appeared in 103 games during that time (with just 29 of them being in the 2021-2022 season). His inconsistency has been an explanation for a team that begins each year as a championship contender only to fall far short of expectations come playoff time. Furthermore, Irving’s refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine and his off-the-court antics made him a distraction that sorely lacked his firepower this year.
The resulting drama between the Nets and Irving reportedly impacted the mood of his good buddy Durant, who was allegedly very upset with the team’s top brass for how they handled Irving. “[Durant’s] biggest beef is that he feels that the front office didn’t grow to understand Kyrie, whatever that means,” The Ringer’s Logan Murdock said on a recent episode of The Mismatch podcast. “I would push back on that when a guy leaves for two weeks at a time … Kyrie earns the lion’s share of the blame. But I think KD believes that ‘hey, you guys didn’t understand this guy. You didn’t try to figure out where he was coming from.’…”
And rumors were that Irving’s pending departure from Brooklyn would only precipitate Durant’s, too. But it appears the talented twosome are staying put at Barclays Center — for now. See what sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski told the staff of ESPN’s SportsCenter last night about the expectations for Durant, Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets going forward.