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Of the many free-agent decisions expected to come in the next few months, Kyrie Irving represents one of the most intriguing.
The Boston Celtics star could stay with the team he’s helped build, or he could leave after a frustrating season. He could rejoin LeBron James and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, or try to lead his own team elsewhere. He could take the biggest market possible with the New York Knicks, or, well, pay attention to recent history.
Oddly enough, the sportsbook at Caesars Palace doesn’t see any of those as the most likely options.
Brooklyn Nets favored to land Kyrie Irving
Yes, the Brooklyn Nets are apparently the favorites to land Kyrie Irving after an ascendant season built around young talent.
Trailing behind the Nets are the Knicks, Celtics and Lakers, with the Los Angeles Clippers coming in fifth. Every team on that list, save the Celtics, is expected to be aggressive in free agency this offseason between their significant cap space, the strong group of players available and the perks/demands of being in a large market.
However, the Nets are definitely a surprising choice as favorites to land Irving considering they already have a promising point guard in place.
Would signing Irving mean goodbye to D’Angelo Russell?
D’Angelo Russell was the Nets’ clear keystone this season. The 23-year-old posted 21.1 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting, as well as seven assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. He was a fan favorite and the Nets’s first All-Star since 2014. And, again, he’s only 23 years old.
The former No. 2 overall pick is a restricted free agent this offseason, and he could present a dilemma for the team if it turns out to be a bigger free agent destination than expected.
Even if the Nets bring back Russell and sign one more max free agent, it’s hard to see that free agent being Irving. Both players are point guards with defensive limitations who need the ball in their hands to thrive. Building your team around the pair doesn’t seem to make sense, though, to be fair, we also said something similar when the Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul and played him next to James Harden.
However, Russell and Irving aren’t quite at the level Harden and Paul were at that point. It would be an odd situation.
If the Nets can land Irving and possibly another significant free agent, that could be worth it, but it’s also worth wondering if moving on from Russell would sacrifice all the development the team has made around him over the last two years.
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