MIAMI — On Sunday, Kyrie Irving will return to Barclays Center for a home game with the Brooklyn Nets. And it sounds like he plans to keep playing home games with the Nets for a long time to come.
Before Saturday’s game against the Heat in Miami, Irving spoke to the media about his feelings toward the Nets and his desire to keep playing alongside Kevin Durant.
Irving may exercise his player option for $36.5 million for the upcoming season. This coming summer, he has the option to opt out and perhaps sign a five-year contract with the Nets worth up to $246 million.
“I really like it here,” Irving added. I’m sure we’ll have some discussions once summer rolls around, but there’s no way I’m leaving my man 7 behind.
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That was Meant to be a Shout-Out to Durant, Who Sports No. 7 For the Nets.
According to Nets coach Steve Nash, Irving’s disclosure was not particularly shocking to his team. The Nets have been planning as though Irving will be a part of their lineup in 2019 and beyond.
In the end, I think we all feel confidence that we’ll have Kyrie back,” Nash said. However, “that’s a discussion for the front desk.”
Now that New York City mayor Eric Adams has exempted athletes and performers from the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, Irving made these statements a day before he is due to play his first home game for the Nets this season. Next up for Irving and the Nets is a Sunday home game against Charlotte after they travel to take on the Heat on Saturday.
Since his return to the Nets in January, Irving has been limited to playing in away games due to his lack of vaccinations. Many city employees, including police officers and teachers, are still subject to the law, thus Adams’ decision has drawn criticism.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, stated this week, “If the mandate isn’t essential for famous individuals, then it’s not necessary for the cops who are safeguarding our city in the throes of a crime crisis.”
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Indicating his sympathies with those who find double standards in Adams’s decision, Irving said he can see how some may reach that conclusion.
On Saturday, Irving was quoted as saying, “I think there are a lot of people suffering with actual effects from being unvaccinated.” I don’t think it gets enough attention in terms of our frontline workers and other important personnel.
If the Nets decide to extend Irving, they will have committed about $560 million to three players.
Starting with the upcoming season, Durant will be under contract to the Brooklyn Nets until the 2025-26 season after signing a four-year, $194 million agreement. Ben Simmons, acquired by the Nets from the 76ers earlier this season, has yet to make his Nets debut despite being owed around $113 million through the duration of his contract through 2024-25.