Kyrie Irving has been scratched from Saturday’s Brooklyn Nets game due to what the team is calling a ‘sore calf,’ thereby preserving the point guard’s health ahead of Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline.
Injury news aside, the decision to sit Irving comes after his reported trade demand on Friday, and it could serve several purposes for Brooklyn. In addition to ensuring that Irving remains healthy in the event a of trade, the reported calf injury also means the disgruntled All-Star can skip pre- and post-game media availability. In other words, he can avoid any uncomfortable conversation with beat writers amid the swirling trade rumors.
The fourth-place Nets (31-20) host the visiting Washington Wizards (24-27) on Saturday – one day after Irving demanded a trade from Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks. 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, when he becomes a free agent.
Lakers fans, eager to see deal struggling guard Russell Westbrook for Irving, were quick to point out that both players are scratched from Saturday’s games. Westbrook, who would likely be involved in any Lakers’ trade for Irving, is battling a non-COVID illness, according to the team.
And Lakers fans aren’t the only ones interested in bringing Irving to LA. His former teammate, LeBron James, reacted to Irving’s trade demand on Twitter with the ‘eyeballs’ emoji.
Kyrie Irving has been scratched from Saturday’s Nets game due to what the team is calling a ‘sore calf,’ thereby preserving the point guard’s health ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline
Lakers fans, eager to see deal struggling guard Russell Westbrook for Irving, were quick to point out that both players are scratched from Saturday’s games. Westbrook, who would likely be involved in any Lakers’ trade for Irving, is battling a non-COVID illness, according to the team
The Lakers are the most intriguing trade option given Irving’s history with James, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. The two famously won a title together in Cleveland, coming back from a 3-1 Finals deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2016 to capture the club’s first championship, but the relationship fizzled soon after.
Irving ultimately asked for a trade in 2017, and the team complied, sending him to the Boston Celtics. As ESPN reported at the time, the New Jersey native no longer wanted to play alongside James, citing a desire to be a team’s focal point. The two have remained hospitable when facing off on the court and are typically seen greeting each other with a hug.
The major obstacle in bringing Irving to the Lakers will be the Nets’ asking price, which will likely be more than Westbrook, a former MVP who has struggled since arriving in Los Angeles in 2021. In addition to Westbrook, the Lakers would likely need to include at least two future first-round picks in any deal for Irving, and may be forced to take on some unwanted contracts from Brooklyn.
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.’
And Lakers fans aren’t the only ones interested in bringing Irving to LA. His former teammate, LeBron James, reacted to Irving’s trade demand on Twitter with the ‘eyeballs’ emoji
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 — 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 January 8. Durant could return during this homestand, since he’s on record saying he wants to play in the All-Star Game on February 19 — so, presumably, he’ll be back with the Nets before then.
Irving (left) and the Nets were thought to be moving toward a long-term extension in 2021, when Kevin Durant (right) 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
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 anti-Semitic beliefs.’ That came shortly after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an anti-Semitic 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.
The 30-year-old ignited controversy by tweeting a link to the Amazon page for the 2018 film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America’
‘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 repeated 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.
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