A week removed from being voted a starter in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, mercurial Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has requested a trade, preferably before next week's deadline, according to multiple reports.
The request comes less than a week before Thursday's NBA trade deadline. The Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks are expected to be among the teams interested in Irving, multiple reports said. Lakers superstar LeBron James appeared to make known his interest in reuniting with Irving:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 3, 2023
Irving's request also comes six days after his agent and stepmother, Shetellia Irving, told Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes they had made no progress toward securing a lucrative long-term extension in Brooklyn.
"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."
The Nets had previously been willing to let contract talks with Irving linger until his unrestricted free agency in July, when he will most likely have to choose between re-signing in Brooklyn or seeking a sign-and-trade deal, per NBA insider Marc Stein. Irving is currently eligible for a four-year, $200 million maximum extension.
The request comes three months to the day after the team declared Irving "unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets" for "publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate" and a repeated "failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so." Irving ultimately apologized and served an eight-game suspension. His Nov. 20 return coincided with a Brooklyn surge in the Eastern Conference standings, until Kevin Durant suffered an MCL sprain last month. The Nets are 4-7 in Durant's absence.
Durant is hopeful to return before the All-Star break, and the Nets (31-20) are clinging to fourth in the East.
The request comes seven months after Durant presented his own trade ultimatum to the Nets — trade him or fire both then-head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. Durant's demand came on the heels of Brooklyn granting Irving permission to seek a sign-and-trade deal that never materialized in June.
Durant rescinded his request once it became clear the Nets could not find equal trade value for a pantheon-level player. Besides, he is under contract in Brooklyn until 2026. The team fired Nash seven games into this season. It remains to be seen whether Irving's desire to be traded causes Durant to reconsider his position.
Irving's request comes 16 months after the Nets rescinded a four-year, $200 million extension offer in October 2021, following his failure to meet New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Irving played just 29 games last season, when the Nets were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Finally, the request comes less than four years after Irving opted not to re-sign in Boston, announcing instead his intention to join the Nets, for whom he had been a fan as a native of West Orange, New Jersey.
"In my heart, I knew I always wanted to play at home," Irving said in a since-deleted Instagram video from July 2019. "Home is where my heart is, and it's always been there, simply because of such a great love that I have for my family and the way I grew up. ... And home is where my family is, home is where I want my legacy to continue. And I'm happy to be in Brooklyn."
The partnership between Durant and Irving has been nothing short of disastrous. Durant's ruptured Achilles cost him the entire 2019-20 season, when shoulder surgery limited Irving to 20 games. The Nets made an all-in trade for one-time MVP James Harden in January 2021, only for Harden and Irving to battle injuries in the playoffs. Irving's unwillingness to meet the vaccine mandate contributed to Harden's push for a trade from Brooklyn in February 2022, which in turn submarined the Nets' season and left both Durant and Irving in search of different teams this past summer. A Band-Aid on those bullet wounds has lasted half a season.
The Nets have won as many playoff series with Durant and Irving as they did with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, which is to say one, and now the Houston Rockets control their next five first-round draft picks.
Irving's request should come as little surprise to anyone following his career. His interest in playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers barely lasted a year from their 2016 championship. A trade request in August 2017 led him to the Celtics, with whom he vowed to re-sign at a 2018 event in front of season-ticket holders, only for his eyes to wander to Brooklyn inside of a few months. There is no predicting Irving's next move, only that his preferences could change at a moment's notice, and that must concern any potential trade suitor.
– – – – – – –