BOSTON — In the latest episode of “As Kyrie’s World Turns,” Kyrie Irving reversed course and opted into the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
For the majority of Monday it sounded like Irving was set to either opt out of his deal or force a trade somewhere. But the mercurial guard opted in Monday evening, settling for his $36.5 million payday from Brooklyn.
“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving told Shams Charania of The Athletic.
It’s unclear how Irving taking the most money is daring to be different, but that is how Irving saw his move. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski painted the situation in a much different light when he reported Irving’s decision.
“Without the ability to find a sign-and-trade deal, Kyrie Irving plans to exercise his $36M player option for next season and return to the Nets, sources confirm,” Woj reported.
The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly the only team interested in acquiring Irving. But it would have been difficult to work out a trade that worked for both sides, so Irving’s only real option was to opt out and sign with the Lakers for $6 million. So he had 30 million reasons to return to the Nets.
That will keep Irving and Kevin Durant together for at least one more season, as the Nets try to bounce back from a disappointing first round exit by the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Irving averaged 27.4 points per game last season, but played in only 29 regular season games due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination rules. He averaged 21.4 points during Brooklyn’s first-round sweep by Boston, which is a tad bit inflated by his 39-point Game 1 effort.