The Lakers, Mavs and Suns are reportedly among the suitors for the Nets guard after he requested a trade.
By now, you know that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. This is not to be confused with the offseason, when Irving seemingly wanted out when he didn’t sign an extension, or with Kevin Durant’s trade request. That’s right, this is a fresh round of Nets drama, even though the team has improbably settled down after starting the season by firing its coach and playing some of the worst defense the sport has ever seen. Despite the constant headaches, Irving has enough talent that he will have plenty of followers. The Lakers, Mavericks, Suns and Heat are among teams pursuing him, per multiple reports. The Clippers are also among teams who have generally been looking for help at point guard. Here are some trades that could land each team Kyrie before the Feb. 9 deadline.
Lakers-Bulls-Nets Three Teamer
Lakers receive: Kyrie Irving
Nets receive: Zach Lavine, Coby White
Bulls receive: Russell Westbrook, 2027 and ’29 Lakers unprotected first-round picks
I went over this move in my initial Kyrie reaction, but I don’t see him going to LA unless a third team gets involved. The Nets have no use for Westbrook, and can still contend seriously with Lavine in Irving’s place. This all comes down to the Bulls’ appetite to blow things up. It’s possible Chicago still believes it can compete when healthy. Those Lakers picks are very tempting, though.
Lakers Hornets Nets Three Teamer
Lakers receive: Kyrie Irving
Nets receive: Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee
Hornets receive: Russell Westbrook, Cam Thomas, 2027 and ’29 Lakers unprotected first-round picks
You can fudge the details on this one a bit. Maybe Plumlee isn’t involved in the deal. Maybe only one pick gets moved. The Nets could do worse than Rozier and Oubre, though. Rozier already has playoff experience starting in place of Irving, when he started 19 games for the 2018 Celtics in the postseason. Oubre isn’t a great shooter, and yet he would provide insurance for another Ben Simmons playoff disappearance. (Oubre is at least a willing shooter.) The Hornets are a logical landing spot for Westbrook’s expiring deal, and Thomas is a possible prospect to be included if Plumlee is already in the deal. If the Hornets don’t want a massive teardown, though, Rozier and Oubre are still sensible pieces to be moved. But would it be enough for the Nets?
The Mavs Get Luka Help
Mavericks receive: Kyrie Irving
Nets receive: Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr.
It’s possible Christian Wood could also be involved in this trade. He could replace Hardaway Jr. If he replaced Finney-Smith, then Dallas would have to add another contract (such as Javale McGee’s) to make the salary work. DFS is probably the best fit for Brooklyn out of all the options. He’s a big switchable wing who can generally hit threes, even if he’s struggled this season. THJ could provide some scoring punch off the bench. The issue with this deal for the Nets is it leaves them pretty much without a point guard, unless Simmons can be counted on to handle the ball even in the playoffs. They’d likely need to make some other move to get help at that position. I have a harder time believing a package built around Spencer Dinwiddie heading back to Brooklyn would work, though that’s another possibility.
Does Dallas make sense for Kyrie? The fit between him and Luka isn’t the cleanest. At the same time, the Mavs desperately need talent around their superstars. And having a ballhandler like Irving would absolutely reduce his massive burden.
The Nuclear Burning of a Thousand Suns
Nets receive: Chris Paul, Dario Saric
Suns receive: Kyrie Irving, Yuta Watanabe
This is the spiciest option on the board. I don’t think it makes sense for the Suns to bring in Irving and play him alongside Booker and Paul. Even if you move Paul to the bench in this scenario, who closes? And can the three of them defend together? It makes more sense to for Phoenix to move CP3 if it’s hellbent on Irving, and hope he and Booker can survive defensively.
Paul for Irving doesn’t work straight up, so Šarić is added for salary. In this scenario, the Suns should go after one of Brooklyn’s role players. They need the depth, and James Jones can credibly argue he’s giving up the better point guard in this swap, even if Paul has struggled at times this year. CP3 would keep the Nets’ championship window open, and if it does n’t work, his salary is not fully guaranteed next season. The Suns, meanwhile, would acquire a watch more on Booker’s timeline.
Clippers receive: Kyrie Irving
Nets receive: Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr.
The Clippers are always seemingly in the mix for point guard help, and Irving gives them another great halfcourt scorer to pair with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Nets have a bunch of mid-priced contracts to pick from here, and they should bang the table to acquire Kennard’s shooting and Mann’s potential. (Morris Sr. would also be an upgrade over Simmons.) This one comes down to how much risk the Clippers are willing to take. Maybe they only make Robert Covington available. The problem with all of these trades is how difficult it is to judge Irving’s value of him.
Irving Takes His Talents to South Beach
Heat receive: Kyrie Irving
Nets receive: Kyle Lowry, Dewayne Dedmon
This is the most realistic Heat scenario and I still can’t see it happening. Tyler Herro is onerous to move because of cap rules regarding his rookie extension, and involving him would require a third team to take on salary in a complicated move. Also, this move would put Miami into the luxury tax, a price Micky Arison has been loath to pay. And Irving’s selfishness wouldn’t seem to be a fit for that vaunted Heat culture.
The argument for it is the Heat desperately need offensive juice in the halfcourt, which is what Irving provides. Even if he and Herro together defensively would be an adventure, it’s a challenge built for Erik Spoelstra. It’s not a great haul in return for the Nets. Lowry is having his worst season as a pro. Brooklyn would only do this if other offers dissipated, and the front office talked themselves into Lowry rebounding somewhere else. At the very least, he has championship experience.