For Kyrie Irving and the Nets, the road to a reunion can take many paths

Time is of the essence.

Three weeks from now, the Nets and Kyrie Irving’s relationship will reach another milestone. Irving will have to decide whether to pick the $36.5 million player option for next season, become a free agent or extend his stay in Brooklyn. And as Brian Lewis reported on Tuesday, Irving’s future will be determined shortly thereafter. There are, of course, rumors and speculation about how things will go, everything from signing and trading to a full five-year $248 million extension and everything in between. However, the fact remains that both sides want to get something done. The big issue is what the new decade will look like.

As Lewis writes…

Despite the report that the Nets are “completely unwilling” to re-sign Kyrie Irving in the long-run – and speculation about his trading – all indications are strongly pointing to a reunion between Brooklyn and their All-Star guard…Both Nets and league have said Sources to The Post that an extension is most likely.

The report Lewis cited was a Christian Winfield story a couple of weeks ago in which the Daily News writer suggested the “Nets’ endgame is much closer than it looks” and failed to re-sign Irving. could It eventually led to the departure of Kevin Durant.

On the other hand, Lewis notes that there are many paths the Nets and their superstar could take to fix things and move forward, despite Shawn Marks’ criticism of Irving’s “toover”. Irving has missed 123 out of 226 games since joining the club in the 2019 “Clean Sweep” campaign. The key, he argues, is the incentives both sides agree on.

“I agree a lot [likely] “He is well aware of the salary cap,” Lewis said, citing a league source. “As for the contract, I would probably try to get him back at an annual rate with what he’s currently signing. They can give him a less than capped contract with improbable incentives that allow him to reach his cap. Unlikely incentives are capped at 15 percent of a player’s salary in a given year. So they can make His salary is 15 percent below the maximum, and then they offer incentives to allow him to get the full maximum.

“He will have to withdraw and negotiate a new contract with those new incentives.”

The starting point for these “unexpected stimuli” may be the number of matches played. Under league rules, an incentive is considered “unlikely” if a player has not achieved it in their most recent season. Irving played 29 games last season, so if his new contract contained “the criteria of 60, 50, 40 and even 30 games, he would qualify as ‘unexpected bonuses,'” Lewis wrote. And if Irving is healthy and available, those should be met. standards easily.

“I agree he’s coming back,” former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks and current assistant general manager for ESPN Insider Bobby Marks told The Post, noting that “a contract that includes games being played doesn’t fire every season as it relates to his salary.”

One example Bobby Marks gave Lewis was a three-year maximum extension that was 100 percent guaranteed in the third year if he played 60 games in 2022-23 and 2023-24. Bobby Marks suggested another bonus of $6 million per year for making 65 appearances; That is, a three-year deal worth $138 million with a $120 million guarantee and $18 million in unexpected bonuses.

“I think it’s better to use a three-year contract with last year’s guarantee if he plays in 65 or more games on 22/23 and 23/24,” Bobby Marks told Lewis.

The first source indicated that incentives cannot be written in this way to separate injury-related absences from unexcused absences such as those he obtained in 2020-2021.

To fine-tune the deal, the Nets and Irving could agree on other incentives that are more easily achievable based on individual and group milestones. There is no indication of the status of the talks between the two sides. Marx said at his press conference with Steve Nash on May 11 that the two sides had not yet spoken. It’s hard to imagine that still being the case, but one thing is clear: Neither side is talking to the mainstream media or via social media, which is probably a good thing.

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