With mere weeks to go before the NBA’s next free agency period begins, Kyrie Irving is widely expected to leave the Boston Celtics and sign with a new team. The New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and even the Los Angeles Lakers have all been listed as possible destinations for the All-Star point guard, but the latest from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith suggests that Irving might be favoring the Nets ahead of the other two teams. Aside from that, it also appears that the former No. 1 overall draft pick is pulling out all the stops as he hopes to convince Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant to sign with the Nets.
While Smith gave the aforementioned update on The Michael Kay Show while discussing his continued hopes that Durant would sign with the New York Knicks, he also expressed his disappointment at seemingly being proven wrong on his previous statement that there was a “95 percent chance” Durant and Irving would join the Knicks. As quoted by NBC Sports Bay Area, Smith suggested that Irving is now intent on signing with the Nets, claiming that the Celtics star had gone as far as to take a flight to the Bay Area to recruit Durant to Brooklyn.
“Do you know how depressed I was to have to turn around six weeks to two months later to tell you ‘Damn it, they changed their minds?’ Kyrie went to see the Brooklyn Nets, then he flew out to the Bay to see KD and now KD is contemplating changing his mind. It makes me sick to my damn stomach.”
According to NBC Sports Bay Area, Smith’s update comes shortly after Fox Sports’ Cris Carter said on Friday that there have been some discussions between Irving and Durant regarding the two of them possibly playing for the Nets in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Given the recent “salary dump” trade that sent shooting guard Allen Crabbe and two first-round picks to the Atlanta Hawks for small forward Taurean Prince, the Nets appear to be freeing up cap space to make room for two maximum-contract free agents, New York Daily News wrote on Monday. The publication also cited league sources that claimed the Nets are now the “frontrunners” to sign Irving, and are also “shooting for the big prize” by landing both Irving and Durant.
“The difference between Brooklyn and most teams that have cap space is that Brooklyn has the full package,” said one of New York Daily News‘ sources. “Players want more nowadays and Brooklyn has all the tools. They’ll have a good shot at KD if Kyrie ends up in Brooklyn.”