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Why Kyrie Irving probably wouldn’t sign a contract extension with Spurs

San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 21: David Lee #10 of the San Antonio Spurs talks to Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers on the court during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on January 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Kyrie Irving reportedly included the Spurs on his list of preferred teams when requesting a trade from the Cavaliers.

How keen on San Antonio is Irving?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Spurs have interest in Irving, league sources say, and Irving’s willingness to commit to an extension with the Spurs makes for legitimate win-now deal possibilities for Cleveland.

Would Irving really sign an extension with San Antonio? I doubt it.

Wojnarowski frequently uses the term “extension” interchangeably with “re-signing on a new contract,” which can lead to confusion. There is often a huge difference – including here.

Irving has two years left on his current contract before a player option. Beyond that, I previously wrote about his options:

The largest extension Irving could sign within six months of a trade is one year, $21,104,148. By contrast, Irving’s max salary if he opts out in 2019-20 projects to be about $32 million.

That’d be a large income drop while granting only one additional year of team control.

Six months after being traded, Irving could sign a three-year extension worth $73,361,218 ($24,453,739 annually). If he waits until July, he could sign a four-year extension worth $101,437,733 ($25,359,433 annually).

By contrast, if Irving plays out his contract then opts out in 2019, his max salary projects to be about $188 million over five years ($38 million annually) if he re-signs or $139 million over four years ($35 million annually) if he signs elsewhere.

So, there’s large incentive for Irving to forgo an extension. Anything larger than the one-year, $21,104,148 extension would require trust between Irving and the trading team, anyway.

It would be shocking if Irving signs an extension to facilitate a trade. He’d just be surrendering so much money.

Is Irving willing to make a non-binding commitment to re-sign with the Spurs in two years if they trade for him now? Maybe, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean much to them. Two years is a long time.

Besides, even beyond the extension confusion, San Antonio doesn’t have the expendable young star Cleveland covets in an Irving trade.