The Brooklyn Nets have quite the problem: they don’t want to give Kyrie Irving a ton of guaranteed money in his contract extension, but thanks to his relationship with Kevin Durant, they don’t have much of a choice.
As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported (as relayed by Evan Sidery of Basketball News), Irving is using Durant as a leverage to get the contract he wants from the Nets. After all, the general belief is that Durant will want out and ask to be traded if the All-Star guard leaves.
Kyrie Irving’s leverage in negotiations with the Nets is that Kevin Durant will want a trade if he leaves, per @wojespn,
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 22, 2022
For what it’s worth, the Nets are well aware of that possibility and fear that it would happen. In fact, there are reportedly teams hoping that Kyrie Irving walks away from Brooklyn since they believe it would give them a chance to trade for Kevin Durant.
NBA insider Marc Stein also noted in his latest newsletter how the Nets are trying to work things out with Irving in a bid not to alienate Durant.
The Nets and Irving are still widely expected to continue their partnership, but it remains to be seen who’ll give in first. Brooklyn can’t trust Kyrie because of his absence last season, something they fear could happen again if they give him the guaranteed money he wants. However, they also cannot afford to lose him and see Durant follow him out.