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Kyrie Irving trade expected soon; Nets plan to keep him out till it’s done

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

It appears that Kyrie Irving has played his last game with Brooklyn.

With two games left before Thursday’s 3:00 p.m trade deadline, Monday vs. the Clippers and Tuesday vs. the Suns, it seems the Nets want to be done with Irving and do not plan to play him again before getting things done.

Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted this Saturday night...

Then, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, whose coverage has been the most comprehensive going back to his interview of Irving’s agent last week, responded with this...

The Nets scratched Irving late Saturday, claiming he suffered from right calf soreness. When asked about the supposed injury, Jacque Vaughn confirmed that his absence was excused.

“From our standpoint, it was that we all were in agreeance of him not being here tonight,” Vaughn said post-game.

According to various reports, the Nets have engaged, on some level, with the Lakers, Mavericks, Suns at the least. Irving’s “antics”, as one league source called his long list of issues in Brooklyn, do not seem to deter contenders looking to add a superstar, even if a controversial one, at the deadline. With both conference races tight and the prospect of the play-in tournament all broadening the definition of “contender,” there may even be a bidding war for the 30-year-old who’s capable of averaging close to 30 points a game with 50/40/90 shooting splits. And despite the controversies surrounding him over the course of his career, he is among the most widely followed athletes on social media and in NBA arenas, usually drawing the biggest cheers at Barclays Center. (On Saturday night, however, there was a scattering of boos when his image was shown on the jumbotron before the Wizards game.)

There’s been no rumors — yet — of what other teams are offering the Nets or what else the Nets might have to give up in a deal, but that could change quickly. The overwhelming number of deadline trades take place in the 48 hours leading up to the deadline, meaning from Tuesday afternoon on. So far, there’s only been one trade of any significance in recent days, the Lakers acquisition of Rui Hachimura.

Assuming the Nets relationship with Kevin Durant is strong — and he has yet speak publicly on Irving’s request, Brooklyn will presumably want a young star and draft picks but may have to take on a big contract — something like Russell Westbrook or the Lakers or Chris Paul of the Suns — to make a deal work ... or pull together a multi-team deal. Sean Marks engineered the last five-team deal in the NBA, the one in 2021 that sent Spencer Dinwiddie to the Wizards. The first James Harden trade involved four teams.

However, if the relationship with KD is dependent on Irving and he again requests out, that could mean an even more complicated week for Marks, Joe Tsai and the rest of the front office, the beginning of a rebuild. Durant was not at Barclays Center cheering on his teammates Saturday night.

The other issue is whether Irving will want to suit up if he isn’t traded by Thursday, an increasingly remote situation according to reports. Brian Lewis tweeted that that issue remains a “nuclear” option.

There does not appear to be any room for a replay of Durant’s summer trade request and subsequent return to the fold. That took seven weeks to resolve and was pretty much a singular event, unlike Irving’s situation where his decision to opt out come at the end of a litany of issues that have caused him to miss almost half of the Nets games since he joined the Nets in the Clean Sweep of 2019. As every Nets fan knows, Irving has had a history of missed games, some unexplained, as well as embarrassments to the team ownership as he consorted with anti-vaxxers, endorsed an Alex Jones conspiracy theory and seemingly promoted a video with anti-semitic overtones, the latter two this season. Now comes the trade request which he did not reportedly share with any of this teammates including Durant.

Tsai still appears to embrace the concept of pulling together superteams. He is the process of doing just that with the Liberty.