Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets had an objectively tough offseason as rumors swirled daily regarding contract and trade demands.
"Hearing Kev's trade request, I opt in…it's awkward. It's very awkward."— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) September 26, 2022
Kyrie Irving says his decision to come back to the Nets was "the best one for me" pic.twitter.com/LJHjIHIQBP
During this year’s Media Day sessions leading up to the 2022-23 season, Irving outright called the offseason a “clusterf***k” and that “it was just a lot” to decide to opt-in to the final year of his contract while his close friend and teammate Kevin Durant reportedly demanded to be traded from the Nets before ultimately coming to an agreement with Joe Tsai and Sean Marks that he would stay in Brooklyn.
Kyrie: “It was just a lot: I opt in. Then hearing Kevin want to be traded. It’s awkward. Im sitting at home, I dont know what to think of it. But… I just ultimately want to see him do well & be happy. If that wasn’t w/ in our organization I was gonna have to accept that.” #Nets— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
The former Duke Blue Devil said that he didn’t appreciate the “stigma” surrounding him due to his vaccine status and that he and the Nets were supposed to figure out how his being unvaccinated would impact his contract extension before last season. Since they didn’t, Irving missed out on a four-year contract worth $160 million due to his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.
“I felt like I was forced with an ultimatum whether or not I had a contract or whether or not I could be on a team or be around the team (depended) on whether or not I was vaccinated. So tough conversations, and we both left out of there with respect.”
Kyrie: “There was a level of uncertainty of what this was going to look like of me coming back and I had questions. They were answered truthfully and that’s all I needed….I gave up four years $160 million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision.”— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
When asked about leaving Brooklyn, Irving confirmed that he had options but “not many” due to his vaccine status. Heading into a contract year and at the young age of 30, Irving will have to prove heading into the season as he looks to negate any narratives questioning his injury history, desire to play, etc. Brooklyn opens up the preseason against Miami on Oct. 3 and the regular-season against the Pelicans on Oct. 19.