Since the Brooklyn Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs, there have been questions about Kyrie Irving’s future with the team. With the two sides reportedly at an impasse in contract negotiations, there are rumors Kevin Durant could potentially be headed elsewhere this summer.

The Nets have a concern that Durant could ask for a trade if Irving doesn’t return to Brooklyn next season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Irving has yet to opt-in to the final year of his contract, and Brooklyn is reportedly unwilling to give the point guard a max contract.

As long as Irving isn’t signed with the Nets for the 2022-23 season, there’s a chance that Durant could look to play elsewhere. It’s no longer uncommon for superstars to suddenly seek trades, even while playing for a postseason contender. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden have all done so within the past few years.

The odds of Durant and Irving splitting up, however, remain low. The Nets might not offer Irving a max contract, but it’s hard to see him finding one with another team.

Only a handful of teams have enough space to give Irving a max deal. The guard isn’t expected to leave Brooklyn in free agency to sign with the likes of the San Antonio Spurs or Orlando Magic.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Get UP!” that teams aren’t looking to clear salary-cap space with plans of signing Irving. Irving has maintained that he wants to stay in Brooklyn.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks have been linked to Irving as possible suitors. Those teams would have to acquire Irving via a sign-and-trade. If losing Irving potentially means losing Durant, Brooklyn won’t agree to any such deal.

The Lakers are viewed as the biggest threat to lure Irving away from Brooklyn, according to the NBA insiders. Windhorst speculated that it’s at least possible that Irving might consider leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table in order to reunite with LeBron James in Los Angeles.

That scenario remains a long shot.

Durant signed a four-year extension before the start of the 2021-2022 season. Brooklyn has Ben Simmons under contract for three more years. If Durant, Simmons and Irving are part of the Nets’ roster, Brooklyn could be the favorite to represent the East in the 2023 NBA Finals.

Irving has until June 29 to pick up his $36.9 million option.

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving (L) and Kevin Durant (R) of the Brooklyn Nets during a game against the Boston Celtics in the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021. Getty Images/Nathaniel S. Butler