The Nets’ season ended on Saturday with their loss in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, an early exit that, by every measure, was a disappointment for a Brooklyn team with championship aspirations.
And though Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that it would be a busy offseason for the team as it looks to bolster the supporting cast around Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, at least its Big Three is intact. All three are under contract through next season, with player options for the 2022-23 campaign.
But could the Nets actually look to trade one of their three superstars before that point — even this offseason? In a surprising twist, one recent report suggests they could at least entertain offers.
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Kyrie on the Trade Block?
As he made the rounds to get the word about his new Nets book Can’t Knock the Hustle, author Matt Sullivan recently made an appearance on the Celtics Lab podcast, where he dropped a surprising revelation.
According to Sullivan, Nets ownership was upset with some of Irving’s antics during the regular season — including his time away from the team — and, because of that, the seven-time All-Star isn’t exactly untouchable.
Here’s the entirety of Sullivan’s soundbite on Irving from his appearance on the Celtics Lab:
Let me give you guys a little news, I’m not sure that’s been out there. I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings – whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason.
Now, I’m not sure what the market for Kyrie is at this point. It’s not like Ben Simmons giving you the headache on the court. It’s that complex personality that comes from off the court. I think it’s been annoying some people in the franchise. I can’t speak to his teammates, who obviously want to play with one of the world’s best and get him back there.
Irving averaged 26.9 points in 54 games this past season, the second-most he’s averaged over the course of a season in his career (behind only the 27.5 he averaged in 20 games in 2019-20, his first season with the Nets). He added six assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
Even more impressive than all of that was how efficient Irving was as a scorer. He became just the ninth player in NBA history to finish a season shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line.
Obviously, any trade involving Irving would have to yield a massive return.
Kristian Winfield, the Nets beat reporter the New York Daily News, didn’t mince words when he described what such a trade would mean for Brooklyn.
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Steve Nash Weighs in on Game 7 Loss
Irving missed multiple games during the Bucks series with a sprained ankle, including the final three. Harden also missed multiple games, returning for Games 5-7 while playing through a Grade 2 hamstring strain.
Injuries, it’s clear, were the biggest antagonist working against the Nets this season.
“I knew it was possible, especially with all the stuff we faced,” Nets coach Steve Nash said about his team falling short of a championship, via nba.com. “You’re missing Kyrie, James is on one leg, you have to understand it’s not the same. And so I still thought we could win it and clearly I think we proved tonight (Saturday) that we could. Game (7) could have gone either way. You always know there’s a chance. Anything could happen. I think we just faced one too many obstacles this year because I thought our guys gave it everything they had.”