Tuesday, March 21 2023
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Ever since returning from his early-season suspension, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving had been in the headlines for all the right reasons: impressive individual performances, another All-Star Game selection and, before Kevin Durant was injured, helping lead a 12-game winning streak that is still the longest by any team this season. 

All of that changed in recent days ahead of the 2023 NBA trade deadline, as Irving demanded a trade from the Nets due to disagreements about a potential contract extension. Per Chris Haynes, the relationship between the two parties is now so broken that Irving would not accept a max deal from the Nets at this point, and the team will keep him sidelined until the front office can figure out a deal. Irving sat out Saturday night’s game against the Wizards with “calf soreness.”

But what if the Nets can’t find a move? The potential issue for both Irving and the Nets is that finding a trade may not be all that simple. Irving is set to be a free agent in the summer, has been notoriously unreliable over the past few years and will only want to play for a select number of clubs. If the Nets fail to come to an agreement with another team, Irving is “prepared” to sit out the rest of the season, according to Stephen A. Smith on NBA Countdown:

“You’ve got both Los Angeles teams, you’ve got the Dallas Mavericks, you’ve got the Phoenix Suns. I’m told all of them will pay him. Whether that’s a four-year guarantee or whatever remains to be seen, but they’d give him more than Brooklyn would give him. 

“Now the question would be, ‘OK, what would he do? Doesn’t he have to play, otherwise he’s gonna hurt his stock, he’s gonna hurt his value even more? I’m told, no, that wouldn’t happen… Kyrie Irving is prepared to sit out the rest of the season if need be. That’s what I’m being told.”

While there will be some real complications, the Nets do have an incentive to trade Irving before the deadline to avoid losing him for nothing in the summer and having the issue hanging over the team until then. As such, the most likely scenario is that Irving is on a new team by next week, even if the Nets have to take a loss on the deal value-wise. 

But in the event that they can’t figure something out, it will be fascinating to see what happens with both Irving and the team the rest of the way. Would he really just go home while the Nets try to fight for a playoff spot? How would the Nets fare without him on the court? And how would the Nets fare dealing with the constant distraction off the court? 

Given Irving and the team’s history, those questions would be nearly impossible to answer; the Nets will hope they don’t have to try. 

Source: CBSSports.com

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