What’s the status on Kyrie Irving’s player option for 22-23?

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At the time of this writing, Kyrie Irving is still a member of the Brooklyn Nets. But heading into the 2022 offseason, things could change rather quickly for Uncle Drew and the Nets. Irving has a player option for next year; once he decides to opt in or out things will likely move quickly.

The tumult of the 21-22 campaign is well-documented. The club reportedly considered trading Irving, although the risk of alienating or upsetting his long-time pal Kyrie Irving always looms large. At times, though, KD and Kai looked incredibly potent, and Brooklyn’s laundry list of injuries made it hard to truly assess things.

Will Kyrie opt into his player option, and should he? If he doesn’t, what happens next? It’s difficult to know what to do next – general manager Sean Marks recently demurred when asked about Kyrie’s future.

Let’s explore Kyrie Irving’s current contract situation:

Scenario No. 1: Kyrie picks up player option

This is by far the most likely and smartest choice for Irving. He holds a $36.5 option for the 2022-23 regular season. Given his age, injury history, and disposition in the league, it’s unlikely — but not impossible — for Kyrie to earn this much in annual salary over the summer.

Opting in allows Irving to continue working alongside his friend Kevin Durant, playing for his childhood team, and remain the starting point guard for a contending club. And besides, many more teams have cap space in the summer of 2023. Picking up his player option to this final year of his contract would allow Kyrie to become a free agent next year and exert even more flexibility.

If Irving does opt in, Brooklyn has a few options. A healthy Ben Simmons makes the prospect of keeping Irving and Durant together quite intriguing. The Nets could have the right balance of star power, offense, and defense already on the 22-23 roster.

At the same time, if Brooklyn is ready to move on from Irving, Sean Marks and Co. could immediately begin the process of trying to trade the former Duke Blue Devil. Such a hefty contract could facilitate a relatively straight-forward blockbuster trade.

Scenario No. 2: Kyrie declines player option, re-signs with Brooklyn

Kyrie Irving has made a ton of money in his career while simultaneously logging a number of injuries. At this stage in his career, Uncle Drew may value a longer contract over a big, upfront pay day.

In this scenario, Irving could opt out of his current contract and re-sign with the Nets at a lower yearly salary but for more years. Kevin Durant is on the books through the 25-26 season. Would Kyrie sign a four-year deal at less than the max? Taking a salary cut is no easy decision, but there may be an agreeable deal to strike here.

Brooklyn could save some scratch next season with a move like this. Keeping Kevin Durant happy is no small consideration either. Even if Brooklyn has concerns about Irving long-term, a more manageable yearly figure could make a trade or even buy-out feasible even if things went super haywire.

Scenario No. 3: Kyrie picks up player option, Brooklyn seeks sign-and-trade

The relationship between Irving and the Nets is certainly a little strained, and understandably so. Perhaps the damage is done, and Irving is looking for a new place to play basketball.

Unfortunately for Irving, very few teams have any appreciable cap space for this coming offseason. His options for signing with another club outright are, at present, basically limited to the Spurs, Pistons, and maybe the Knicks. This option feels extremely unlikely.

Instead, if Kyrie states his desire to play elsewhere, he may work with the Nets on a sign-and-trade. He could ink a new deal and immediately be traded with that new contract. This would open the door to new options for Irving and also give the Nets a chance to recuperate some value. Hard cap concerns could become a problem for Brooklyn, but if Irving does indeed want out, Marks would be wise to get something in return

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