Kyrie Irving indicates he plans to stay with Brooklyn Nets

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“I can’t leave my husband 7 anywhere,” Irving said of Kevin Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) fires Memphis Grizzlies attacker Dillon Brooks. Brandon Dille/AP Photo

MIAMI (AP) — Kyrie Irving is finally set to play another home game for Brooklyn on Sunday. And he apparently plans to play home games with the Nets in the coming years.

Irving, who spoke to reporters on Saturday after Brooklyn’s game-day shootaround practice in Miami, said he feels comfortable being a member of the Nets and wants to remain teammates with Kevin Durant.

Irving has a $36.5 million player option for next season. He could opt out and sign up for a five-year contract worth a staggering $246 million next summer, assuming the Nets offer such a deal.

“I love it here,” Irving said. “Once summer comes, I know we’ll have some conversations, but I can’t leave my husband 7 anywhere.”

That was a reference to Durant, who is wearing jersey No. 7 for Brooklyn.

Irving’s comments came a day before he was scheduled to play his first home game for the Nets this season, after New York City Mayor Eric Adams has exempted athletes and performers from the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. After Saturday’s game in Miami, Irving and the Nets return home on Sunday to receive Charlotte.

Irving has said he has not been vaccinated, meaning he has been eligible to play road only for the Nets since he rejoined the team in January. Adams’ decision has been criticized by some, as the city’s mandate still applies to many workers, such as police officers and teachers.

“If the mandate isn’t necessary for famous people, then it isn’t necessary for the police protecting our city during a crime crisis,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association. said this week.

Irving said he understands why many think Adams’ decision creates a double standard.

“I think there are a lot of people who are dealing with the real consequences of being unvaccinated,” Irving said on Saturday. “I don’t think it’s talked about enough in terms of our essential workers and people on the front lines.”

Offering Irving an extension would mean that the Nets could have pledged about $560 million to three players.

Durant’s four-year, $194 million extension with the Nets begins next season, leaving him under contract with Brooklyn through the 2025-26 season. Ben Simmons, who has yet to make his Nets debut after being taken over from Philadelphia earlier this season, is under contract until 2024-25 and has approximately $113 million in credit for the remainder of his deal.

“I’m looking at the long term,” Irving said.

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