There’s potential chaos coming in Brooklyn, more smoke than fire around Zach LaVine’s off-season decision, while the Lakers have put their foot down.
All that and more in the latest edition of the NBA Rumor Mill!
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Thu, 26 May
Thursday May 26th
THE KYRIE DILEMMA
The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly “outright unwilling” to give Kyrie Irving a long-term extension, and it could spell disaster for the franchise, with a Kevin Durant-sized question looming.
According to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, Irving’s anti-vax stance and injury history has Brooklyn “hesitant” to make any commitments after the star guard played just 29 games last season.
Irving has a player option for next season, and is expected to turn it down in order to hit free agency and either re-sign with the Nets, or get a deal elsewhere. If Brooklyn was to commit long-term, they have two options: a four-year, $ 190 million ($ A268m) max. deal, or a five-year, $ 245 million ($ A345m) max. contract.
Now, if they choose not to offer Irving the max, things get interesting.
“If Irving leaves the Nets, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Durant becomes frustrated with the organization’s ability to put championship pieces around him,” Winfield wrote.
“… This is why the Nets’ championship hopes hinge on an amicable solution with Irving.”
According to Winfield, Durant and the Nets front office have not spoken since Brooklyn was swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics.
SMOKE, BUT NO FIRE
Zach LaVine is going to get paid this off-season. The only question is: by who?
And while there’s some chatter about the guard heading elsewhere, and a potential issue with DeMar DeRozan’s alpha status, the belief around the league appears to be LaVine will be back in Chicago, according to Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney.
“Business as usual,” an Eastern Conference general manager told Deveney. “The Bulls can give him more money. They can give him a chance to go to the playoffs every year. If he is not the No. 1 option, he is 1A and that is going to be the case in just about any place he goes if he is serious about leaving. “
Another league source added: “A lot of this is coming from the agents, where they want to not only get him paid but raise his profile at the same time.”
LaVine is represented by Klutch Sports, which looks after the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Bulls teammate, Lonzo Ball.
The 27-year-old is eligible for a five-year, $ 200m ($ A282m) extension with Chicago.
WESTBROOK WON’T BE THROWN AWAY
Russell Westbrook is owed $ 47 million ($ A66m) next season, and the Lakers will have to pay … if they don’t want to pay him.
That is, in the form of a first-round pick, which is what teams around the league are reportedly demanding in any Westbrook trade.
According to The Athletic, though, the Lakers have “no intention” of using a first-rounder, of which they don’t have many to use anyway, just to move off Westbrook’s deal.
“And it’s not merely a bluff or tactic to try to regain leverage in trade talks,” Jovan Buha wrote.
“… There is a sentiment among some within the franchise that the right coach and a better supporting case could over Westbrook’s awkward fit with James and Davis.”
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists last season for the Lakers, who missed the post-season entirely.