It’s hard to not look at the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets season on the brink, but down 0-3 to the Boston Celtics many have already turned their focus to what’s to come over the summer.
Part of that will be figuring out what the future looks like for superstar Kyrie Irving. The point guard has a $36.5 million player option for next season, which is the final year of the four-year deal he inked with Brooklyn three years ago.
[Complete First Round Coverage of Celtics-Nets Series]
It’s no secret that Irving wants to remain in Brooklyn and he has voiced that on several occasions.
“It has always been about being comfortable loving where I’m at, and I love it here,” Irving said earlier this year. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations; but there’s no way I can leave my man seven anywhere.”
It’s expected that Irving will decline the player option and look to sign a contract extension over the summer, but after the series he’s had so far it’s fair to ask whether or not his play against Boston could change the scope of those negotiations.
Irving was held to 16 points in Game 3 on Saturday and just 10 points in Game 2. He did have a monster game, putting up 39 in the series opener, but that was his best effort so far and the Nets now face a very early end to their season.
Add on top of that the other drama that came along with Irving since he’s arrived. His stance on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine impacted the Nets’ season and became one of the biggest off-the-court distractions for Brooklyn.
It also likely played a part in the end of James Harden’s stay in Kings County.
In the three seasons with the Nets, he has played in 103 of his team’s 226 games because of personal reasons and injury. In fact, Irving hasn’t played 70 regular season games in one year since 2016-17 and he has never played more than 75 games in a year.
This season, Irving has been limited to play 29 regular-season games due to his vaccination status, but did average a career-best 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 47% shooting from the field.
If Irving declines his player option for next season, he could sign a five-year, $246 million contract extension this offseason.
That would keep him under contract through the 2026-27 season, which would be one year longer than fellow superstar Kevin Durant. Durant, 33, signed a four-year, $194 million extension in August that keeps him in Brooklyn through the 2025-26 season.
Inking Irving to a four-year deal would have their contracts in sync with both expiring the same year, and Ben Simmons under contract through the 2024-25 season as well.
Boston’s lockdown defense has played a part in Irving’s game through the first three games of the series, but add that on top of everything else that has come along with him and all of that could play a factor in how the offseason goes between the two sides. It’s unlikely to change either side’s desire to remain in Brooklyn, but it’s one of the many things that Nets general manager Sean Marks will need to handle.