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NBA

Wall on way out, but Westbrook, Irving plan to sign player-options. Why are they staying?

The headline names that were on the verge of becoming free agents look like they are staying put as all three are set to sign their player-options.

Update:
Some headline names that were on the verge of becoming free agents look like they are staying put as a couple are set to sign their player-options.
Meg OliphantAFP

It looks as though all the biggest names in the free agent market will be staying put as reports have Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and John Wall signing player-options.

At the moment, Westbrook, Wall, and Irving’s decisions have not been made official, but are expected they will be finalized before the player option deadline is up on Wednesday.

So why stay?

Russell Westbrook’s agent, Thad Foucher, is said to be in the process of finalizing the paper work to keep the 2017 NBA MVP in Los Angeles for the next year. Aside from the money, which is eye-openingly astronomical at $47 million, Westbrook could be staying in LA to try to win the hearts of the Laker fans.

He didn’t necessarily make a good first impression in his opening year at the Crypto.com Arena and this could be his chance at redemption. There is also the belief that the Lakers project could have a possibility to contend this year despite a horrible last season. If they off-load some of the extra weight and reload with some role players they could be competitive in the west.

On Monday, Kyrie Irving told The Athletic that his plan is to sign with the Nets for the next year after agreeing to the $36.5 million player option. Kyrie has had his trouble in Brooklyn, mostly surrounding COVID restrictions in New York and struggles with the front office.

Kyrie and the Nets’ talks were said to have stalled not too long ago, and Irving gave a “wish-list” of teams he would consider for a opt-and trade. The only team that seemed feasible was the Lakers, but with Westbrook potentially staying on and the Lakers having to splash that cash, that choice became increasingly less probably.

His good friend and two time NBA champion Kevin Durant stood by Irving and questioned why the front office didn’t have their franchise point guards back throughout the season.

While the Big Three of KD, Kyrie and James Harden fell short the last two post seasons, the Nets have new-look Big Three with Durant, Irving and Ben Simmons who came to Brooklyn at the end of last year.

The Nets have brought in some of the league’s best talent with the hopes of winning the first title in franchise history. If they can keep the team together they would be one of the favorites in the East.

John Wall looks like he is on his way out of Houston after a long last couple seasons. The Rockets guard fell out of favor with head coach Stephen Silas and was told that he would not be counted on. Injuries have hampered the five-time All-Stars career, and between that and his systematic problems with Houston he has played just 40 games in the last three years.

The former Kentucky Wildcat standout has reportedly agreed to a buy-out with the Houston Rockets, and is likely on his way to LA to join the Clippers.

He has made a habit of playing minimal games and earning maximum dollars. Over the last three seasons, he has played 40 games and made over $110 million, which is equivalent of $3.09 million per game.

There is still no word on James Harden and his decision to stay or leave Philadelphia. He seemed to have a great chemistry with Joel Embiid after getting traded from Brooklyn, and the the $47.3 million is certainly enough to make him consider staying. He has played for three different teams over the last two seasons, so you wouldn’t be surprised if he walked out of the City of Brotherly Love.

Bradley Beal is the other high profile free agent that is yet to make a move on his player option. He was the leagues second leading scorer two seasons ago, but his numbers took a dip in 2021-22. He can stay in Washington and make the $36.4 million he is owed, or look for a long term deal either in the capital or elsewhere. If Beal is looking to get on a title contender for the first time in his career, he may have to take a pay cut.

There are sure to be some big headlines coming out of the NBA in the next few days as we approach the opening of the market. The free agent market starts at 6:00 p.m. ET on June 30th and will go until July 6th at 12:01 p.m. ET.

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