Former Blue Devil Kyrie Irving has had an amazing NBA career, doing things that no one has done before. He is, in our opinion, the greatest ballhandler in the history of the game. You could put him in a 7X7 box with someone guarding him and he would never lose the ball. He’s just that good. He’s taken ball handling to a whole new level.
But he’s also had a string of controversies since joining the league ranging from his flat-earth views to his unpleasant exits from Cleveland and Boston and later to his anti-vaccine stance with Brooklyn and more.
Now he’s asking out of the Nets as well.
After his latest controversy this fall over his linking to a film that is widely regarded as anti-semitic, Irving has been simply brilliant. He’s averaging 27.1 ppg, 5.1 boards and 5.3 assists. After a dreadful start, he’s helped lead the Nets to a 31-20 record, which is good for fourth place.
Now, though, he has requested to be traded before Thursday’s deadline. If not, he plans to opt out as a free agent after the season.
It’s a somewhat risky move.
No one doubts his talent, but the controversies that have followed him make signing him a harder sell. He has also missed a lot of games over the years, and now he’s 30 too. He missed a lot of games early in his career when he was younger and healthier. He hasn’t made it to 60 games since 2016-17 and during his time with Brooklyn, he has played in 20, 54 and 29 games respectively (he’s played in 40 of 51 games this season, some of those due to his suspension over the controversial movie).
There is speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers might pursue him, which would reunite him with LeBron James. The two helped lead Cleveland to an NBA title in 2016 but Irving left the following year, partly to become more of a focal point for his new team.
He was traded to Boston, then left the Celtics in 2019 as a free agent.
It’s a complex situation.
Brooklyn was none too happy with him over his vaccine stance and then this year the links to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” the Prime movie we mentioned above.
Owner Joe Tsai made some fairly pointed comments at the time and it’s not hard to imagine that Irving wasn’t happy about that.
So now he’s essentially put Tsai in a tight box: trade me now for whatever you can get or lose all value after the season.
It’s an interesting power flex and how Brooklyn handles it will also be intriguing. The potential trade partners have most of the leverage, because they can just wait and sign Irving this summer. But given his controversies and his injury history and other reasons for missing games and his value may not be as high as it could or should be.
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