I love sports. I love the NBA. I love that hours after the Warriors won the 2022 NBA Finals, there were already rumors about free agents, coaching changes, and even "too early to tell" power rankings were all being written as the beer and champagne were still drying on the walls of the Warriors locker room. Let's join in on the noise and talk about some loud rumors that are already going around.
Easily the most anticipated free-agency situations is around Kyrie Irving. Irving has a June 29 deadline on his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season. According to multiple sources at The Athletic, Irving's conversations about his future in Brooklyn have (time to act shocked) reached an impasse.
The superstar marriage of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has not panned out as expected. Durant missed their first season together due to an Achilles injury, while Irving played just 29 games this season. This included missing most of the season’s home games because of his decision not to comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate. Irving has only appeared in 103 of 216 regular-season games. Yikes.
Drama has followed Irving for at least half of his NBA career. His vaccine stance could cost him some money in free agency, depending on where he chooses to play. There are already interested suitors. The Lakers, the Knicks, and the Clippers. An interesting thing to keep in mind is that all those teams play in New York and Los Angeles, cities with strict vaccination mandates.
As for the Lakers and Clippers, getting to the purple and gold would mean Irving having to opt-in and then request a trade. The Lakers don't have the cap space for him neither do the Clippers. The Clippers are significantly over both the luxury-tax line and the hard cap for 2022-23. The Lakers are as well. Both teams would need to send more money out than they could bring in for an Irving contract. Irving leaving Brooklyn would be painful for the Nets in both on-the-court results and cap space.
How many balls on the court would the Lakers need for this to work, anyway? If we believe the reports about Russell Westbrook focusing more on defense and not on offense, who runs the ball? Kyrie Irving? Russell Westbrook? LeBron James? This Lakers team already had chemistry issues. Imagine the chemistry issues that come with Irving only playing half of their games? I just don't see it.
Auburn university's Jabari Smith has worked out for both the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Magic and Thunder have the first two picks in the draft. He's a lock for the number 1 or 2 pick.
According to NBA writer Marc Stein, the Detroit Pistons have "been weighing the free-agent pursuit of Dennis Schroder" and have been "frequently linked" to New York Knicks free-agent center Mitchell Robinson. Schroder has come a long way from turning down a four-year, $84 million extension with the Lakers. He started the 2021-22 season with the Boston Celtics and was traded to the Houston Rockets. The Celtics then went to the NBA Finals a few months later. Yikes, Dennis.
John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks is almost certainly on the move. I would source this rumor but I wouldn't even know which place to link from, as every major NBA publication has confirmed this. Collins averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 boards this past season. Collins also shot 52% from the field and 36% percent from beyond the three-point line. He'd be a big 'get' for any team.
I offer this thought about Kyrie Irving. Would you want Irving to come to your favorite NBA team? I suspect the answer would be divisive. Let us know on Twitter at @EnFuegoNow or @AJontheguitar.