Kyrie Irving asks the Nets to trade him
Irving and Kevin Durant joined the Nets as free agents ahead of the 2019-20 season to form one of the most dynamic tandems in the league. Durant is one of the smoothest scorers in the league, and Irving is perhaps its best ball handler. They each had championship experience and seemed poised, talent-wise, to bring a title to the Nets.
But there were questions and concerns from the start. Durant tore his Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals while playing for the Golden State Warriors, and he missed his first season in Brooklyn. Irving, meanwhile, appeared in just 20 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
The following season, the Nets caused a stir when they acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets in a three-team trade. But Irving missed several games for unspecified personal reasons, and during one of the stints he was away from the team, video surfaced of him attending his sister’s birthday party without a mask, violation of NBA coronavirus protocols. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Irving sprained his right ankle against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Nets lost the series in seven games.
The drama, however, was just beginning. Before the start of the 2021-22 season, the Nets issued an ultimatum to Irving after he refused to get a Covid-19 shot: get the shot or stay home. Irving missed 35 games before the Nets reversed their policy, allowing Irving to play in road games. He was able to play home games nearly three months later when Mayor Eric Adams repealed a vaccination mandate for professional athletes and entertainers working in New York.
But Harden was gone by then, having joined the Philadelphia 76ers in a midseason trade. The Nets were then swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Following this disaster, Durant requested a trade but canceled it before the start of this season.
Irving had a player option for this season, and it wasn’t clear until almost the June deadline if he would agree to participate. After weeks of speculation that he might try to force a trade, Irving announced he was in for this season after all. .
“Normal people move the world forward, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving said in a statement at the time. “I’ve made my decision to sign up. See you in the fall.”