Kyrie Irving has had a confounding season with the Brooklyn Nets. He’s been solid on the court, but a lot of his off-court antics have gotten him into hot water.
He even served a suspension earlier this season after promoting antisemitic media on his personal Twitter page.
But that is not what the news is about on the final Friday prior to the NBA’s Feb. 9 trade deadline. Instead, the news is about Irving’s apparent trade request from the Nets.
It’s a pretty shocking development, or at least it would be if Irving didn’t already have a reputation for perpetually causing drama and headaches for his team.
Breaking: Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving has requested a trade, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The franchise has been informed that Irving prefers to move on ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline – or will leave in free agency in July.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 3, 2023
This move very much forces the hand of the Nets front office. Irving is making it clear that the team can either trade him now for some value or lose him for nothing in just a few short months.
This makes things even more precarious for his current team because it gives any team interested in Irving major leverage. Why would a team offer major assets for Irving now if it knows it could land him with a simple contract offer after the current season comes to an end?
Ultimately, Irving is putting the Nets in the worst position possible, and he probably knows that.
The fascinating thing is that just last week, it appeared that Irving was ready to sign a long-term deal with the Nets.
“Around Kyrie and staying with the Nets? his agent Shetellia Irving said to Bleacher Report in January. “I have reached out to the Nets regarding this. We have had no significant conversations to date. The desire is to make Brooklyn home, with the right type of extension, which means the ball is in the Nets’ court to communicate now if their desire is the same.”
It looks like the trade request potentially stemmed from the fact that the Nets recently offered Irving an extension with “guarantee stipulations,” according to Shams Charania.
“The Nets recently offered Irving an extension with guarantee stipulations, according to league sources, an offer which was declined,” he wrote for The Athletic. “Sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations who have been granted anonymity so that they could speak freely say that the extension offer was not well received and that there have been principle differences that have emerged between the Nets and Irving.”
Now, with just under a week left before the trade deadline, the Nets will have to try to pick up the pieces.
It’s a fascinating development and marks the beginning of the kinds of fireworks fans hope for in every pre-deadline market.
Only time will tell if Irving gets the trade he clearly desires or if he will be forced to carry out the rest of his current contract before getting the chance to sign elsewhere in the offseason.
On the season, the Duke University product is putting up characteristically impressive numbers, averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Despite all the baggage, he’s still a phenomenal player. That’s why it won’t be much of a shock if a number of teams around the league express interest in the coming days.