UNABLE to get a new contract, Kyrie Irving is looking for a new address.
The All-Star guard has asked the Brooklyn Nets for a trade, a person with knowledge of the details said Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 (Saturday, PH time).
The request comes less than a week before the trade deadline and possibly signals an ending to his tenure with the franchise, either then or after this season ends.
Irving made the request after talks about a new contract did not go to his liking, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because talks were to remain private. It was first reported by ESPN and The Athletic.
Irving is eligible for a contract extension, but the Nets refused to give him one last summer. Irving’s agent and stepmother, Shetellia Irving, told Bleacher Report last week that she had reached out to the Nets regarding a new deal. Kyrie Irving — whose current deal with the Nets expires after this season — is eligible for a four-year contract worth as much as $200 million.
“I have reached out to the Nets regarding this,” Shetellia Irving told Bleacher Report. “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.”
Irving and the Nets were thought to be moving toward a long-term extension in 2021, when Kevin Durant signed one. Instead, Irving proved himself to be unreliable, missing games for reasons unrelated to basketball and the Nets changed their thoughts about locking into a lengthy future with the point guard.
The Nets — coming off a 43-point loss at Boston on Wednesday, Feb. 1, — open a five-game homestand Saturday against Washington. Irving isn’t listed on their injury report, meaning he is available to play. They play six of their last seven games before the All-Star break at home; the only “road” game in that stretch is at the New York Knicks.
But whether Irving will be part of any of that is unclear now.
A tweet was posted to Irving’s account shortly before the first reports of the trade request came out; as often is the case with Irving when it comes to social media posts, it was not certain what exactly he was referring to in that post.
“To my Peers: JUST BE YOURSelf and GROW! Keep people around who CELEBRATE YOU unconditionally and appreciates all of the hard work that gets put in. Distance yourself from the folks who manipulate, hate, and hurt,” read the tweet.
Brooklyn is 31-20 this season, fourth in the Eastern Conference standings entering Friday and has gone 4-7 since fellow All-Star Durant hurt his knee in a game at Miami on Jan. 8. Durant could return during this homestand, since he’s on record saying he wants to play in the All-Star Game on Feb. 19 — so, presumably, he’ll be back with the Nets before then.
Irving is playing well in Durant’s absence, averaging 30.3 points in the last 10 games. Perhaps that would interest teams who were reluctant to make a deal for Irving last summer, when he acknowledged he didn’t find much of a market because of his perceived unreliability.
Durant also had asked the Nets for a trade this past summer, before cooler heads prevailed. And it was at this time last year that Brooklyn traded James Harden — who was part of what the Nets thought would be a Big Three of him, Durant and Irving — to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that brought Ben Simmons to Brooklyn.
Whatever happens between now and Thursday, this is officially the start of yet another new saga surrounding Irving, who signed with his hometown team along with Durant in the summer of 2019.
He was suspended by the Nets for what became eight games earlier this season after the team said it was dismayed by his repeated failure to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.” That came shortly after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed. Irving also wound up losing his long relationship with Nike as part of the massive fallout from what he tweeted and the reactions that followed.
“I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is going against the human race,” Irving said on the day the Nets reinstated him in November.
Irving also missed much of the 2021-22 season because of his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which left him essentially ineligible to play in Brooklyn’s home games for much of the season because of New York City rules put in place in response to the pandemic.
He has also expressed no shortage of controversial opinions during his career — including repeatedly questioning whether the Earth was round before eventually apologizing to science teachers.
Irving also took a leave of absence during the 20-21 season and general manager Sean Marks said this past summer that being available to play was going to be something the organization considered as it weighed an extension for Irving. (AP)