Kyrie Irving Credit: Bill Moore photo

The Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving will move off the tabloid headlines for now with Irving’s decision earlier this week to opt into his 2022-23, $36.9 million dollar contract with the franchise.

“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” stated Irving according to a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. “I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” Irving informed followers of the NBA.

One of the league’s most prolific scorers, Irving had presented the Nets with a list of teams to which he would accept a trade if the two sides could not come to an agreement. But after the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly were the only team that was a possible destination, the 30-year-old seven-time All-Star made the best choice by staying with the Nets for the time being.

If he had decided to opt out of his 2022-23 contract, Irving would have become an unrestricted free agent. But there were only a handful of teams with the salary cap space to offer him a contract comparable to what he will be making next season. Also, Irving’s history of stepping away from the Nets for personal reasons and missing most of last season as he remains unvaccinated, gave Brooklyn and other teams valid reasons for not wanting to sign him to a long-term deal.

Hopes were high for the Nets and their fan base in the summer of 2019 when team general manager Sean Marks announced the free-agent signings of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They were expected to lead the franchise to a championship as Irving previously did with the Cleveland Cavaliers (one title) and Durant did with the Golden State Warriors (two rings). Thus far they have come up empty.

With Irving and Ben Simmons, whom the team acquired in a trade for James Harden last season, healthy and engaged for a full season in a lineup with Durant, the Nets are as talented as any team in the league. Simmons did not suit up for the Nets due to a back injury and dealing with mental health issues.

The Nets were swept 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs this past season by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.  

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