Paper is flat. The earth is not flat. Roads are flat. The earth is not flat. Bed sheets are flat. The earth is…not flat. Flatbed trucks are flat. The earth is…you get the idea.
Am I beating a dead horse when I remind you that it was only a few years ago when Kyrie Irving insisted, on his teammate Richard Jefferson’s podcast, that the world was flat? Absolutely. Let’s be honest, though: if you have a friend, relative, co-worker, Amazon delivery guy, landscaper, priest or priestess in your life that believes the world is flat, it’s your duty as bastion of reason and sanity to berate, shame and belittle them into submission.
Kyrie, of course, is no stranger to controversy, and controversy is no stranger to him. This guy rolls out of bed every morning and falls headfirst into a conspiracy theory. He’s a loud and proud, tin-foil-hat-wearing denier of common sense and rejector of social norms. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that Kyrie provided the Brooklyn Nets with his “Trade Wish List” of teams Kyrie would prefer to be traded to - in the event the Nets and Irving cannot agree on a long-term deal.
Given Kyrie has missed a grand total of 115 out of 218 possible regular season games in over his three seasons with the Nets, it's pretty darn reasonable that the Nets wouldn’t want to throw gobs of money at a player who can’t be bothered to show up half the time. This is probably a good time to remind you that this past season, Irving wasn’t missing time due to injury - it was because he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine which was mandated in New York City.
Now, I’m not here to litigate whether or not getting the vaccine is necessary, helpful, moral, safe, whatever - there’s plenty of folks on Reddit who’d love to hear from you on that - but what I will say is if you are an employee of a company that pays you upwards of $30 million in one-freaking-year to play basketball in NYC, well then sorry, my friend, but you gotta get the jab.
Of course, Kyrie didn’t get the jab. He was perfectly content to sit out home games while his teammates tried to pick up the slack. The Nets managed to sneak into the NBA’s Play-In Game, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers before getting swept away by the Boston Celtics in the first round. It was a disastrous ending for a team that was favored, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, to reach the NBA Finals.
So, here we are. Kyrie wants to get paid. The Nets are like, woah nelly.
At this moment, Irving is still under contract with the Nets, but he has a player option for the 2022-23 season. The deadline for him to pick up the option is June 29. It’s getting down to crunch time.
The Nets and Irving are still negotiating a new contract, but it seems the Nets are balking at giving him the long-term deal he wants. We might be headed for a breakup. Poor Kevin Durant, all he wanted was to play basketball with his friends - but he might actually be better off without his pal.
So, now Kyrie has provided the Nets with a list of six teams he would prefer to be traded to: the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Let’s rank each of these in terms of the most cartoonish:
6. Miami Heat
Ok, this one is pretty boring. “Heat culture” and blah, blah, blah. Irving would probably fit nicely alongside Heat star Jimmy Butler. Both have the ability to initiate offense and play without the ball. The Heat would probably have to include reigning-Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro in the trade, although Irving’s offensive skill-set would easily make up for whatever they lose with Herro out of the picture.
As for the Nets, it would be a tough pill to swallow to send their second-best player to one of their rivals in the Eastern Conference, but it might be their best opportunity to get equal (or close) value in return for Irving. A package of Tyler Herro and veteran guard Kyle Lowery might be enough to entice the Nets to seal the deal.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
Kyrie alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard? That sounds awfully nice on paper. The Clips have the resources and players to make this trade happen - Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Ivica Zubac for Kyrie works in theory. There’s not much more to say about this one.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Now we’re getting a little spicier. Would Dallas really want to pair their generational superstar Luka Dončić with the mercurial Irving? My guess - hell no! The Mavericks have something brewing with their “five out” offense with Luka at the center. Irving might make some sense as a secondary ball handler and spot-up shooter, but his lack of defense and reliability as a teammate make him a bad fit on a young team like the Mavs.
3. New York Knicks
Kyrie switching boroughs! It was widely reported that the Knicks were pursuing both Kyrie and Kevin Durant in the 2019 offseason, before both decided to spurn the Knicks in favor of their cross-town rivals the Nets. There would be some karmic justice to see Kyrie stuck on a hapless Knicks team.
As for what the Nets could get in return? Those conversations would have to start with the up-and-coming R.J. Barrett, the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. That would leave the cupboard pretty bare for Irving, but he’d finally get what he always wanted - a team all for himself.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James and Kyrie together again!?! Please, NBA gods, make this happen. It all comes full circle for Irving, who earlier this year admitted he made a mistake when he forced his way out of Cleveland and away from James.
Of course, the Lakers do not have the ability to make a trade like this happen. Not even close. Russell Westbrook would almost certainly have to be involved to make the salaries match up, but no one wants Westbrook. No one. Certainly not the Nets, who have enough players on their roster with a total lack of self awareness.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
The reunion to end all reunions: Kyrie and James Harden back together, just a season after Harden forced his way out of Brooklyn because he couldn’t take Irving’s vaccine B.S. any longer. Can you imagine the look on Harden’s face the day Irving walks into the gym sporting Sixers garb? I’d pay good money to see that.
On a serious note, the Sixers might actually have the ability to make this trade happen. Would some combination of Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris intrigue the Nets? It probably would, but the Sixers would have to be on peyote to take that deal. The Irving and Harden experiment already failed once. Why try to erase history? Furthermore, is Kyrie really so blithely unaware to think Harden would want to play with him again? Can someone please explain to me how a person could have such an unbelievable lack of self awareness? I’m speechless.