Is there a current NBA player who invokes more disgust, loathing, and aversion than Kyrie Irving? The Brooklyn Nets guard is on his way to imploding his third team. First, he demanded out of Cleveland after tiring playing second fiddle to LeBron James. Then he aggressively bounced out of Boston, creating a mutual hatred while out the door. Now with Brooklyn, he has fostered a culture of chaos: Advocating for not needing a head coach and saying he, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, and Sean Marks are running the team by committee.
It’s impossible to ignore God-given talent. Irving is among the most skilled offensive players, dribblers, and passers in the history of the NBA. His skill set is unmatched, but in the last three seasons, his health and personal availability have made it difficult to judge his play on a large sample size. But even on a “down” year where he played in just 29 games, Irving still averaged 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on shooting splits of 47/42/92.
Rumors have already leaked that Irving has given the front office a list of teams he is willing to be signed and traded to, should the situation devolve to that place. The list included the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Lakers.
When it comes to Irving, it’s hard to parse through what has merit and what’s bullshit. If this list is indeed accurate to Irving’s preferences, the Nets must at least consider Irving’s wish list. Additionally, Irving’s impending free agency will impact the Nets’ decision-making, as potential trade-partner teams will want a verbal commitment from Irving.
After burning through his third team, is there even a situation that makes sense for him anymore? His anti-vaccine stance, flat-Earth philosophy, and erratic behavior on and off the court have run off teammates, coaches, and front offices throughout his career.
So let’s go through the top five destinations on Irving’s list and weigh the pros and cons of his potential fit.
Updated on June 27 at 7:10 p.m.: Seven hours after posting this look at possible teams Kyrie Irving might end up on next season, the enigmatic guard opted to stay in Brooklyn, where he’ll make $37M in 2022-23.
“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving said according to The Athletic. “I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall.”