After the Nets suspended him, Kyrie Irving’s way forward is uncertain. Let’s explore several possible roads ahead for the player, the team, and the NBA.
On Nov. 3, the Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving without pay for no fewer than five games, deeming him “currently unfit to be associated” with the team. It was the first strong action that the team took following several days of controversy regarding the veteran point guard’s role in not just promoting antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories, but refusing multiple opportunities to apologize to those who were hurt by what he said.
Suffice to say that the narratives in play here are far bigger and more consequential than basketball. With that in mind, it quickly became an open topic of conversation in basketball circles as to whether Irving, a perennial NBA All-Star who was on a Hall of Fame-level trajectory, had already played his last game as a Net. From certain corners of the discourse, others have wondered if he has a road back to basketball at all.
For now, we’re looking at a murky future featuring several possible roads ahead. With the former No. 1 overall pick needing to earn his way back — and reportedly meeting with league Commissioner Adam Silver this week as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 8 — Boardroom explores four scenarios for Kyrie Irving’s future in the NBA.
Scenario 1: Earns Reinstatement, Plays Out the Season
If the player rises to each of these occasions to the organization’s liking and refrains from creating new controversies along the way, it logically follows the Nets would reinstate him and he would play out the remainder of the 2022-23 season, after which he would be a free agent. Based on current conditions, it’s not likely that the team would consider re-signing him. One way or another, that landscape will take more shape as the Nets’ head coaching situation clarifies for the long term, as well as the outlook regarding the team’s other core pieces going forward.
Scenario 2: Remains a Net but Doesn’t Play
We’ll refrain from weighing in on the likelihood one way or another, but one possibility under the sun is that Kyrie Irving does not satisfy the conditions for reinstatement to the Brooklyn organization’s full satisfaction and effectively remains suspended indefinitely, perhaps for the entire remainder of his contract.
Unless the NBPA takes issue with the terms of Irving’s without-pay suspension on, say, CBA grounds — this is not a hill anyone would die on here and now, to be clear — the team could opt simply to run out the clock on the last season of his four-year, $136.49 million contract. This is one of the more disheartening options out there because of the messy defiance it presupposes.
Scenario 3: Nets Formally Cut Ties During the Season
If Tsai, GM Sean Marks, and the Brooklyn Nets organization determine that there is no way to ameliorate the current situation but wish to grant the player an opportunity to re-enter the open market (whether or not there’s an actual market to speak of), two possibilities emerge:
- Irving and the Nets agree to terminate his contract by mutual consent
- The parties agree to a deal to buy Irving out of the remainder of his contract following the trade deadline
Naturally, the plausibility here depends on what Irving does over the next few months. He entered the season with a 2022-23 salary of $36.5 million and is already in line to make less due to his suspension.
Scenario 4: Nets Find a Trade Partner
As of this writing, Kyrie Irving really doesn’t have any trade value to speak of. It’s not conceivable that any rival team would be giving Marks a serious call in the next several weeks. The present moment is loaded with unknowns, but what’s certain is that the player would have to go to significant lengths to satisfy a deeply skeptical basketball establishment for that situation to change.
If he is able to reestablish himself as an NBA player in some manner of good standing before the 2023 trade deadline on Feb. 9, the Nets would surely appreciate the opportunity to receive some sort of positive asset in exchange for Irving rather than simply watch him leave for free in the summer.
It may not be possible, but it’s too early to know if that’s authentically the case. The ultimate deciding factor here, as with each of these scenarios, is what Kyrie chooses to do himself.
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Kyrie Irving Contract & Salary Details
Length: 4 years
Total value: $136,490,600
Average annual value: $34,122,650
Free agency: 2023
The views expressed in this story are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Boardroom, 35V, or its stakeholders.