By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
Kyrie Irving once insisted that the earth was not round, but flat. Few people understood his reasoning at the time, which he shared before NBA All-Star festivities in 2017. They’re having a little trouble figuring it out now, too.
On Monday, Irving opted into the final year of his four-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets, ostensibly ending a protracted drama that had seemed to jeopardize the team’s potential as a potential contender — and perhaps their hold on Kevin Durant.
However, as always with Irving, there is more to it than meets the eye. First of all, his decision doesn’t completely take away the chances of him leaving Brooklyn. This does not ensure Durant’s contentment. That doesn’t completely quash rumors of an affair with LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers, which have sprung up in recent days.
Irving made some odd comments (reported by The Athletic) following his pick, remarks that immediately earned him a lot of ridicule.
“Normal people move the world forward, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving said. “I’ve made my decision to sign up. See you in the fall.”
Kind words. Except Irving hasn’t quite taken a transcendent step into the basketball unknown, venturing down a path no hoop has taken before. He did not separate himself from the “normal” people of the world. He has just opted for a contract he signed a few years ago.
He’s not reinventing the wheel – round or otherwise. He did something quite simple, making it an eminently easy choice in the absence of any other appealing choices.
And he did it because he got paid for his bluff.
Irving tried to bulldoze out of Brooklyn, discovered the only realistic option available to him was a mid-level exception with the Lakers, and decided to grab the offered $36.9 million to stay put. instead of the $6 million alternative that awaited it. California.
It’s hard to pass this one off as a resounding triumph.
There are signs that the Nets are tiring Irving. After a season in which he only played 29 games – mostly due to refusing to get vaccinated – the Nets fanbase and Big Apple media don’t like what they’re seeing. . A trade is always possible, although the word is that interested teams are few and far between.
“His solitary act of subterfuge, a precious piece of should-or-shouldn’t…is just the latest in a pattern of pathetic petulance,” Mike Vaccaro wrote in the New York Post.
Ric Bucher: Kyrie Irving, the Nets are in “Last Dance”
Ric Bucher joins Joy Taylor on “The Herd” to react to the news that Kyrie Irving is signing up with the Nets. He explains why this situation reminds him of the “Last Dance”.
Irving is a superb player, a performer who can make the difference between winning a championship or not, just like he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015.
But he’s also his own person who shamelessly treads to his own unique tune, which is an enviable trait to have for a poet or a reality TV star — or anyone, really. Yet it’s also the kind of thing to give an NBA owner whose team plays 82 times a year — on specifically allotted dates and times — to thrill.
Irving does what he wants and doesn’t really like taking orders. When Brooklyn invited him to pursue signing and trade opportunities last week, the only team that bit was the Lakers — and not with a package the Nets found in any way acceptable.
He’s good enough to be used to getting what he wants. The Nets said they wouldn’t take on a part-time player, but did so anyway after performance plummeted in the absence of their star guard.
Prior to that, Irving wanted Deandre Jordan on the Nets, so the Nets went for Jordan.
Irving wasn’t too fond of the way former coach Kenny Atkinson was doing things. Atkinson was replaced by Steve Nash.
Lakers fans react to Kyrie Irving’s absence
Nick Wright and Ric Bucher discuss what it means for the Lakers that Kyrie Irving opted for the Nets.
Finally, at the time of negotiations, Irving wanted a maximum salary appropriate to his skill level. And, finally, the Nets balked.
The franchise, wary of his repeated absences and unpredictability, was not ready to make the move. The Nets could change their minds if he shows up and leaves early in the 2022-23 season. He’s on his way to free will, but a deal could still be reached.
Reports indicate that owner Joe Tsai is desperate to avoid the drama of last season, when the team – favored to win the title initially – ended up being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Let’s see what comes next. Now that Irving has opted in, he can be traded and he has given up his right to have a say in that decision.
“I’m far from convinced Kyrie Irving is finishing the season with the Brooklyn Nets,” FS1’s Nick Wright said on ‘First Things First’. “It’s not like he has a no-trade clause. They could send him anywhere. I don’t know if I can count on Kyrie Irving without drama.”
Kyrie Irving sticks with Nets, opts for $36.5 million
After weeks of speculation, the Brooklyn contract saga is coming to an end with Kyrie Irving deciding to go for the final year of his contract with the Nets.
In most cases, star NBA players hold all the leverage. Since there are a limited number of individuals who are truly capable of influencing a game at the highest level, that’s how it goes.
But there is always a limit, and Irving has found it. The Nets called the bluff by refusing to be rushed. They didn’t believe it would take $31 million less to go anywhere else. They did not give in.
They didn’t give him the guaranteed money just because he wanted it, but rather said “hey, show us something”.
We all know Irving has a lot to show.
We all know that when he’s there and motivated, he’s brilliant. The kind of brilliance that, combined with Durant, should theoretically lead to a much better season for Brooklyn.
Except this time, like any good scientific theory, it has to be proven.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. YesYou can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.
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