After two injury-riddled seasons with the Boston Celtics, 27-year-old six-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has now fired his longtime agent and is looking to sign with Roc Nation, the entertainment conglomerate and pro sports agency founded by hip-hop superstar Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, according to an ESPN report published on Thursday.
But according to a report by NJ.com Jay-Z may now simply "gift" Irving to the Brooklyn Nets, the team in which the rapper owned a stake until being forced to sell in 2013.
NBA rules required that Carter unload his stake in the team when he announced his intention to enter the sports agenting business with Roc Nation, according to Forbes.com. But Jay-Z continued to own a piece of the Barclays Center, the $1 billion seven-year-old arena where the Nets play their home games. According to Forbes, when he unloaded his investment in the Nets, he likely converted the shares into equity in the Barclays Center, increasing his interest in the arena.
In the seven years that they have played in the Barclays Center after moving to Brooklyn from New Jersey, the Nets have made the playoffs four times, but advanced past the first round only once, according to Basketball-Reference. The addition of Irving would likely benefit the team — and the arena in which it plays.
And in fact, the day after Irving split with longtime agent Jeff Wechsler, a report in the Boston Herald cited multiple sources claiming that Irving was now "prepared" to sign a free agent contract with the Nets, after he officially becomes a free agent on June 30.
The Nets cleared $18 million in salary cap space by trading the 17th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft along with Allen Crabbe to the Atalanta Hawks, receiving only Taurean Prince in return, according to the Sporting News — which also reported that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said earlier this month that he had no "indication" that Irving planned to leave the Celtics to sign with the Nets or any other team.
"There's ongoing conversations. We'll have to wait and see what happens," Ainge said, as quoted by Sporting News.
Irving, with eight seasons of NBA experience under his belt, would be eligible for a "max" contract estimated to be worth $32.7 million, according to Hoops Rumors.
The Celtics in 2018/2019 seriously underperformed, finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference and bowing out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals when they mustered only one win against the Milwaukee Bucks, per Basketball-Reference.
As ESPN reported, prior to the season, the Celtics were consensus favorites to emerge with the Eastern Conference championship and head to the NBA Finals.