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The Brooklyn Nets are indicating that they want to keep Kyrie Irving
Monday’s news surrounded Kevin Durant and the plenty of teams who are supposedly interested in trading for him. Of course, several of those teams are withholding names such as Desmond Bane in prospective deals for the star, so it’s hard to say exactly how seriously interested these teams are in getting a deal done versus just picking up the call out of opportunistic curiosity.
Lost in the shuffle of Shams Charania’s report on Durant (subscription required) were updates on Donovan Mitchell and Kyrie Irving.
According to Charania, the Brooklyn Nets are telling other teams that Irving is off the table.
We got confirmation not too long ago from Charania that Irving was confident with Brooklyn going into the season, but now we know the franchise is turning their proverbial key as well.
Kyrie Irving’s loyalty in Brooklyn gives them some semblance of a foundation
It would be somewhat understandable for Irving to want out of Brooklyn. With James Harden off to Philly and Kevin Durant wanting out, it’s a bit of a sinking ship, which feels avoidable for Irving at this point in his career.
At 30 years old, Irving is still in his prime performance years. With a title under his belt, it’s reasonable to expect he wants at least one more. He has options if he wanted to use his star leverage, too. Former teammate LeBron James has been pushing his franchise to make a move for him. The pair won a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
It’s hard to tell if the reportedly symbiotic relationship between Irving and the franchise is authentic or postured. There could be a handshake deal to keep things pretty on the outside so the Nets can quietly pursue the best possible deal without losing leverage. They’ve clearly lost leverage with Durant’s request being so public, and two stars pushing out would only drive the trade value down further.
The team was loyal to Irving over the last few years, though, which has been tumultuous at times. That may mean something to Irving.
Irving missed a substantial amount of time (with an unclear return timeline) in 2021 for vague personal reasons. After he refused to get the Covid vaccine in 2022, he was unable to play in home games due to a New York City mandate. Though the team initially said they didn’t want him as only a part-time player out of fear it would be a disruption, they later walked that back and worked around Irving’s restrictions due to his personal choice.
The loyalty could be real. Either way, Irving’s contract is up after this season, giving him agency over his destiny in the near future.