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Stephen A. Smith details Sixers' rumored Kyrie Irving offer originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Just when you think you fully understand what's going on in the NBA, the league completely flips everything on its head.
The Kyrie Irving opt-in or opt-out saga seemingly resolved itself earlier this week when Irving opted in to the final year of his deal with the Nets days after reportedly compiling a list of preferred sign-and-trade destinations if he and Brooklyn couldn't bridge their differences.
The Sixers were part of that six-team list, but initial reports indicated the Sixers weren't interested.
But then, on Tuesday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Irving had three opt-in-and-trade options on the table as he was weighing his future - and Charania also said the Sixers were one of the teams "poking around" an Irving trade.
And now, less than an hour before the beginning of free agency, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith joined the network's free agency countdown special to casually drop a juicy little nugget about the Sixers' pursuit of Irving:
"[Irving was] insulted, he's looking for other teams, throws out a whole bunch of smoke and mirrors.
"Even had the Philadelphia 76ers on the phone, willing to give him a 3-year deal, guarantee him a 3-year deal, but there was no way in hell he was interested in going to Philadelphia and rejoining James Harden or anything like that, so that was a smokescreen."
Hold on, WHAT?!?
The Sixers were so far in on a Kyrie Irving pursuit that they told him they were willing to guarantee him a 3-year deal?
What exactly that trade would've looked like is unclear, though it would've started with Tobias Harris to make the money work and also certainly would've included Matisse Thybulle, who the Nets liked back during the James Harden negotiations but was eventually kept by Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey.
I'd imagine Morey would have played hardball and deemed Tyrese Maxey untouchable, and considering Irving's volatility as a player and as a personality I don't see how Nets general manager Sean Marks would've been able to find wiggle room there.
In general, I like that Morey isn't afraid to pursue any potential avenue to making the Sixers better. But adding Irving... I don't know. It seemed pretty clear from the jump that Irving was just tossing out names, considering the main reported reason for Harden's departure from Brooklyn was friction with Irving. It wouldn't make sense for the two to pair up again, right? And yet Morey still wanted to double check and see what could've been.
With Kevin Durant's trade request and the general dissolution of things in Brooklyn, I think Irving will be on the move as well. I'd say it seems now he won't be coming to Philly... but I'm simply not saying never, because this is all absolutely insane.