Things have gotten serious in a hurry around the Brooklyn Nets and it has nothing to do with Kevin Durant’s injury, though Durant himself is very much a central figure in the newest round of drama to follow teammate Kyrie Irving.
Irving has requested a trade following a breakdown in talks about a contract extension over language regarding the team winning a championship.
The eight-time All-Star’s relationship with the organization is said to be beyond repair.
There are expected to be at least a handful of viable suitors leaving the Nets with what should be their choice of trade packages to accept in return for the mercurial guard. But, if Irving has his say, there might be one place he really wants to go.
Tristan Thompson Recruits Kyrie Irving (and Himself) to Lakers
“He put a heart emoji, so I know he read it,” said Tristan Thompson during an appearance on SportsCenter on February 3 of a text he sent to his former teammate. “And, like I said to Ky, and we all said it before, whatever happened in Cleveland happened. But, like I said, the band broke up a couple years too early. Let’s get it back together. This is what we need.”
Irving and Thompson — who is currently a free agent — were draftmates, selected first and fourth overall, respectively by Cleveland in the 2011 NBA Draft.
They spent six seasons together winning a championship in 2016, the first in franchise history.
Then, just as he is now, Irving demanded a trade. But at the time he was seeking to escape from underneath the all-encompassing shadow of Cleveland’s own LeBron James whose return took that Cavs squad from interesting to championship contender.
Thompson spent four more seasons in Cleveland before signing with the Boston Celtics as a free agent in 2020 missing Irving’s tenure by less than 18 months.
Irving has since apologized for his actions in Cleveland.
“If I was in the same maturity level I am now understanding who I am, and I look back on that time then, we definitely, definitely would’ve won more championships together,” Irving said on ‘I Am Athlete’ in May of 2022. “Because there would’ve been a better man-to-man understanding about what I’m going through. I didn’t know how to share my emotions.”
He has also been highly complementary of James who continues to inch closer to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record but did seem to weigh in on Irving’s situation in his own way.
“One thing about LeBron, he brings the best out of Kyrie and Kyrie brings the best out of LeBron,” Thompson insisted. When they work out with Phil Handy, they go at each other, they play 1-on-1, they go through drills together. And that’s what LeBron needs, that’s what Kyrie needs right now. They need each other and it’s a perfect marriage. Just got to bring them back together.”
Nets’ Best Option Could Simply Be a Swift Resolution
According to NBA insider and Heavy Sports NBA contributor Keith Smith, expectations around the league are for a swift resolution to this entire ordeal.
Whether that favors the Lakers – who are expected to pursue Irving after being heavily linked to the polarizing star last summer amid his previous contract standoff – or another team remains to be seen.
Some others might have better options as far as what they can send back.
But how many of them will want to give up what it could take to pry Irving loose if they are not sure they can retain him either with an extension of the guarantee that he would re-sign in the offseason? Marks – whose own future has been the subject of some scrutiny – certainly has his work cut out for him ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.