After playing in just 103 games during his previous three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s future with the franchise has come into question. With the 7-time All-Star’s recent suspension coming amid his looming free agency, things between the two sides look bleaker than before.
But the writing has been on the wall for an Irving departure since this past summer. In July, Chris B. Haynes, formerly of Yahoo Sports, reported that the Lakers and Nets briefly engaged in trade talks that would have swapped Kyrie and former NBA Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook. Haynes noted there was “optimism” between the sides that they could reach a deal, but that never came to fruition.
But now, amid the most recent saga involving Kyrie, Haynes notes the Lakers are not expected to pursue Irving when he becomes a free agent this summer.
“I can’t sit here and lie to you and say there’s much value in trading for Kyrie,” Haynes said during an appearance on the “Dan Patrick Show”.“I’m on the phone with a lot of teams. His name is not really coming up, even for the Los Angeles Lakers, who he was tied to for much of the offseason. That’s just not something I’m hearing right now.”
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Durant Sounds off on Ben Simmons Emergence
One positive that can be drawn from Irving’s suspension is that Nets star Ben Simmons has started to look like himself in his absence. Simmons finally cracked double digits in the Nets’ loss to the Sacramento Kings and has not looked back since. He is averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists over the last three games.
How far the Nets can go this season weighs heavily on what Simmons can consistently contribute. Brooklyn has a record of 2-1 in the games he has scored double digits or more. Kevin Durant hopes that Simmons will build upon his recent success.
“I’m just happy for him because he’s been trying to get his form back, trying to figure his rhythm out,” Durant said after the Nets’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers via ESPN.
“Tonight, I think he did a good job just talking up, commanding the offense, commanding the team on the defensive side of the ball. He was incredible tonight. So, we’re going to keep building on that, and hopefully, we’re able to get this next one, but he controlled the game and was able to get us back into it.”
Nets Slowly Beginning to Take Form
The Nets started the season in about as disastrous of a fashion as they could have imagined. Yet, they sit just five games out of the first overall seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-9. With Irving now off suspension and Simmons beginning to return to All-Star form, the Nets will soon be a lot tougher to beat than they were at the beginning of the season.
Another thing to consider is that the Nets’ roster is still not whole. Brooklyn is awaiting the return of TJ Warren, who has yet to play this season. For his career, Warren averages 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.
With the Nets beginning to take off and more help on the way, Brooklyn could be a legit contender in Eastern Conference soon.