For months, the New York Knicks have been mentioned in reports as the most likely destination for Boston Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving, who is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and enter free agency this summer. However, there could be another team that could be in play for the six-time All-Star point guard — the Celtics and Knicks’ Atlantic Division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.
Although Stefan Bondy’s report for New York Daily News on Friday mostly focused on the Knicks’ current point guard situation, including the team’s decision to shut down second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina due to a nagging groin injury, there was also some mention of the rumors that the Knicks would be making a move to sign Irving this summer. According to Bondy, the Nets are “also in the running” for the 27-year-old point guard, as multiple league observers believe that he might prefer to play in Brooklyn instead of moving to New York for the coming season.
To back up the aforementioned point, Bondy cited former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who hinted at Irving’s possible preference for the Nets in a recent interview with NBATV. As noted, Griffin served as Cavs GM at the time Irving was still playing for Cleveland, which made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
“I think Brooklyn is the fit that’s better for him in terms of his mindset,” Griffin was quoted as saying. “I think he likes what they’ve done there, culturally.”
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As explained by Bleacher Report, the Brooklyn Nets are a team that looks “ready to make a leap” in the 2019 offseason after losing several first-round draft picks in the 2013 trade with the Celtics that landed them aging veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Currently, the team has enough salary cap space to sign a free agent on a maximum contract and is also in the thick of playoff contention, with their 38-38 record putting them at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference.
Although the above factors could make it plausible for Kyrie Irving to sign with the Nets this summer, Bleacher Report opined that the team might also be an “awkward” fit for the NBA championship-winning playmaker in other ways.
As Brooklyn is well-stacked at both guard positions with D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert all playing key roles for the team, Bleacher Report suggested that their priority in free agency should be someone like Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, due to their lack of quality wing players. Furthermore, the outlet posited that Irving might be better off if he and Durant both sign with the Knicks, as their arrival could turn the NBA’s erstwhile cellar-dwellers into a far more competitive team.