THE BROOKLYN Nets and former Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving are “motivated to move quickly toward” a four-year, $141-million deal when they meet in New York on Sunday shortly after the beginning of free agency, ESPN reported Saturday.
Irving has long been connected to the Nets, a connection that only grew stronger when he changed agents to be represented by Roc Nation earlier this month. Free agency opens at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, though contracts can’t be officially signed until noon on July 6.
According to ESPN, Irving’s expected addition will lead to the Nets parting with restricted free-agent guard D’Angelo Russell, whom they tendered with a qualifying offer earlier this week. Brooklyn could renounce Russell’s rights or work with him and another team on a sign-and-trade deal, with his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, among reported suitors.
Irving, 27, was long expected to leave the Celtics, who acquired him in a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August of 2017. He opted out of his contract and has reportedly avoided contact with the organization since.
A six-time All-Star, Irving averaged 23.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 67 games with the Celtics last season. He has career averaged of 22.2 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds in his eight-year career.
Meanwhile, three-time All-Star Kemba Walker will be in Boston on Sunday to confirm his agreement to join the Celtics on a four-year, $141-million deal, according to multiple reports.
Walker, who spent eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, will become a free agent Sunday.
He has informed the Hornets of his decision, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The Celtics have prioritized Walker as a replacement at point guard for Irving, whom the Celtics did not expect to re-sign.
Just a few weeks ago, Walker said he would take less than the five-year, $221 million “supermax” contract only the Hornets could offer him to stay in Charlotte.
The Observer reported on Saturday, however, that team officials were set on paying less than $170 million because of concerns about the NBA luxury tax in the future.
In Boston, Walker will be counted on to bring veteran leadership to a team that suffered from dissension in the locker room in the 2018-19 season.
The 29-year-old Connecticut product averaged 25.6 points and 5.9 assists while starting all 82 games for the Hornets last season. Those numbers are above his eight-year career averages of 19.8 points and 5.5 assists.
Walker could anchor a starting lineup featuring Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. — Reuters