Though Kyrie Irving decided to exercise his player option for the 2022-23 NBA season with the Brooklyn Nets, it does not appear that the pursuit of the superstar guard is over for some teams.
Prior to Irving’s decision to opt in, there were rumblings about teams being interested in trading for the mercurial guard.
As it turns out, Irving’s decision to opt in has not changed the fact that some teams are interested in acquiring him. According to a recent report, a number of teams are still expected to pursue Irving via trade.
“Several teams are expected to continue to pursue Irving via trade, but his opt-in makes clubs consider more closely whether to trade assets in a deal for a player who will enter unrestricted free agency in 2023,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reported. “Teams across the league understand Irving’s talent, and now a full season in 2022-23 allows him the opportunity to prove himself once again, then return to the market and earn a maximum contract next summer. Multiple sources with knowledge of his decision said Irving wants to prioritize winning a championship next season and show why he’s one of the best players in the league.”
As the report indicates, there is perhaps less incentive to trade for Irving now that he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season.
For one, any team interested in him has the option to simply wait until next summer to try to sign him without having to give up any assets in a trade. Beyond that, it is dangerous to trade for a player with just one year left on his current contract, as nothing is guaranteed beyond that one season. That is especially true for a player that is as unpredictable as Irving is.
Still, for teams that want to win now and feel confident that Irving would re-sign following the 2022-23 season, making a trade for him could be worth it.
Irving played brilliantly last season when he was on the court. However, him actually being on the court was rare. He ended up only playing in 29 regular season games because he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
He averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game last season. That kind of production would help any team. Whether or not a team on the trade market is willing to take on all the uncertainty and baggage that comes with Irving’s production remains to be seen.