The Brooklyn Nets are in a tailspin one month into the season. Ben Simmons is battling a nagging knee injury, Steve Nash is no longer the head coach and Kyrie Irving picked up a suspension for promoting a film with anti-Semitic rhetoric and then refusing to issue an apology for it. Irving has been given a six-step process to complete by the Nets before he can return to play. The Nets never considered releasing Irving but will they end up trading him?
Irving is still suspended for at least one more game, and it’s unlikely he has completed the five remaining steps the Nets have asked of him by the end of the week. That would likely keep him out a few more games. The Nets have had to deal with Irving’s drama for a while now, including his COVID-19 stance a season ago and his promotion of conspiracy theories. The point guard has also skipped out on parts of the season, seemingly taking time off whenever he wants to. He’s become a headache and even though he’s highly talented, that headache eventually causes too many problems to keep around.
Kevin Durant is closely tied to Irving and has refused to speak out publicly against his teammate. The Nets will keep Durant around at all costs, which likely means keeping Irving happy. It’s hard to imagine there would be a major trade market for Irving, but desperate teams do desperate things. The Nets are also one of those teams.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are all potential landing spots for Irving if he were to get a trade. The Lakers and Heat will do anything to win a championship, even if it means taking on the lightning rod that is Irving. The Mavericks have previously been linked to Irving, but they might be less willing to trade for him after what’s gone down lately.
Irving is on an expiring deal, and the Nets are certainly not going to give him the contract he wants. The Lakers will have cap space, as will the Mavericks. Miami could engineer some trades to create room if they want to join the free agency sweepstakes for Irving.
If the Nets aren’t going to retain Irving, trading him seems like the right move. It’s unlikely they’ll get equal value for his talent, so that might give them pause. There’s also a chance the Nets start winning games and put all this drama behind them, which could possibly lead to Irving inking a long-term deal with Brooklyn.