Besides Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving is one of the most recurrent topics in the NBA right now. The Brooklyn Nets superstar has a controversial personality and way of handling things, often putting himself in uncomfortable positions.
This time, his anti-vax controversy has earned him a lot of criticism around the league. Kyrie could miss the Nets home games this season due to New York mandates, which set the alarms within the organization.
Kyrie has a strong personality, and this somehow was expected to happen, but some executives around the league think this might be bigger than we think. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes that executives think Kyrie could be looking to get traded with this attitude.
His refusal to cooperate with health and safety protocols thus far has led some team executives to speculate the All-Star point guard is attempting to leverage a trade.
"He's just not acting like he loves this place and wants to be there," one assistant general manager said.
Multiple team officials B/R contacted mentioned the possibility of a Nets-76ers blockbuster that would swap Irving for the disgruntled Ben Simmons, citing a natural solution for the league's two buzziest controversies.
However, others said that the relationship between the player and the team is excellent. The Nets have been great with Kyrie, working to solve this situation, being patient with the 2016 NBA champion.
Yet several league sources with knowledge of the situation strongly pushed back on the notion that either Irving or the Nets are looking to make such a move. "Kyrie came to Brooklyn to win a championship alongside Kevin Durant," one veteran executive told B/R. James Harden's confidants, sources said, have communicated they expect Irving to be part of Brooklyn for the foreseeable future.
And throughout Irving's tenure with the franchise, Nets officials have worked patiently with him behind closed doors, sources said. Whenever the electric ball-handler seemingly ruffles feathers inside the organization—such as missing seven games early last season in January because of "personal reasons"—management has worked through adversity with empathy.
"I'm sure Sean Marks and Steve Nash aren't thrilled with the situation, but despite all the s--t that goes on, they still treat him really well there," one league source with knowledge of the situation said. "They hear him out. They make the effort to try and communicate with him. That's why Brooklyn is a special place."
Recent history suggests that view holds water. Last season, when the Nets engaged in trade talks to acquire Harden during Irving's January hiatus, Houston inquired about Irving, but Brooklyn never entertained parting with him, sources told B/R.
It would be a shock if Kyrie gets traded by the Nets. He specifically convinced Kevin Durant to join them in 2019, and the team knows he's essential for their championship aspirations.
Hopefully, Kyrie can work things out with the franchise and be ready to start a challenging 2021/22 season where the Nets will try to win it all. It won't be easy, they have issues to address, but this team is on a mission.