Boston Celtics

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant of Team LaBron laugh during practice for the 2018 NBA All-Star game at the Verizon Up Arena at LACC on February 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have long been rumored to sign with the same team as free agents. A new report from one of the NBA’s top insiders indicates that is still the plan – for Irving, anyway.

Ric Bucher posted a wide-ranging new column in Bleacher Report on Monday, sharing plenty of fresh inside details about one of the most active and explosive NBA free agency markets in recent memory. Durant and Irving remain two of the best players available, but it’s unclear whether they will actually join forces.

But apparently, Irving is still trying hard to recruit Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, where he’s expected to sign after free agents can commit to teams on July 1. From Bucher’s column:

“Durant and Irving, league sources say, have met twice in recent weeks to discuss their desire to continue their careers on the same team, an idea forged while playing together on the U.S. national team. The first meeting took place in the Bay Area while Durant nursed a strained right calf; the second occurred in New York shortly after Durant had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.”

Feb 16, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Team Lebron guard Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics (11) handles the ball against Team Lebron forward Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warrior (35) during NBA All-Star Game practice at the Bojangles Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“Damaged Goods”

Bucher also echoes a recent report by Adrian Wojnarowski that the Nets are reluctant to sign Irving if they can’t also sign Durant, who will miss extended time next season with an Achilles injury. It’s the latest indication that Irving’s tumultuous second season with the Celtics (possibly his last) did real damage to his reputation and value around the league.

“Though Durant is the one who’s injured, Irving enters free agency as damaged goods as well. The chemistry issues that undermined his current team, the Celtics, has executives throughout the league as concerned about his leadership skills as they are enthralled with his talent. Signing him as a package deal with Durant is far more appealing than doing so as a lone addition, where he would be the best player on the team, recreating the dynamic that failed so miserably in Boston.”

That said, Irving’s talent will likely take over eventually and he’ll get a max deal with the Nets. And if he does, with or without Durant, Celtics fans will be able to take solace in Irving’s next dumpster-fire taking place in a different city. Feels like there’s little chance he’d approach the Nets any differently than he did the Celtics. And it’s not like dealing with the media is going to be any easier in New York. Not when he’s making pseudo-philosophical Instagram posts about ego.

Whatever happens, Kyrie’s true desires are becoming clearer. What’s not clear is which team will take the plunge, and how things will go from there.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.