Kyrie Irving’s polarizing career trajectory now lands him with the Dallas Mavericks. After this past weekend’s trade with the Brooklyn Nets, Irving now joins fellow all-star guard Luka Doncic. So how did we go from Irving saying “there’s no way I can leave my man seven (Kevin Durant) anywhere,” to leaving him?
Trade From Celtics
Kyrie Irving initially ended up with the Boston Celtics via trade during the summer of 2017. He was with the Cleveland Cavaliers prior and won a championship with them. He cited not having the ability to be his full self on the court as his reason for wanting the change of scenery. With the Celtics, Irving played a total of 127 games over two seasons as well as 9 playoff games. When times were at their best, Irving even shot a commercial expressing his desire to retire a Celtic.
By the close of the 2019 season, Kyrie seemed to have had enough in Boston. On July 7, 2019, Kyrie leveraged his way to Brooklyn. It was seen by many league insiders as the first shoe to drop in the sweepstakes of landing the legendary Kevin Durant. This would be Kyrie’s third team in his career up until this point.
Up until this point, Kyrie’s career was defined by elite ball-handling ability, clutch shot-making, locker room issues, and injury. It was no secret that taking on a Kyrie contract came with a risk. You could risk a rift within the team, or lack of team chemistry, due to injury proneness. The Nets saw this risk to be worth it if it led them to land Kevin Durant.
Now later that same summer the next shoe dropped and the Nets acquire Kevin Durant via sign and trade. The Nets foreseeably got themselves a winning combination. This deal gutted the Nets of a lot of their depth. In 2021 they even sent away future all-star Jared Allen and got an older and less impactful DeAndre Jordan in return for James Harden. These are the sacrifices you make sometimes in acquiring superstar talent.
COVID-19 And Vaccine Fallout
As we fast-forward to March 2020, the NBA shut down due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. Irving wasn’t healthy enough to play in the NBA bubble that was created to finish that season’s campaign. Due to civil unrest in this country in the wake of the George Floyd killing, Irving urged that the NBA not go forward with continuing play. He desired this albeit on the sidelines. Many internalized this as a distraction and Irving once again stirred the pot.
Since then, Irving opted to never be vaccinated which caused him to miss a bevy of games. And as of this season, he made waves by tweeting a link to a documentary on Amazon Prime, that in part expressed some antisemitic viewpoints. With Irving’s refusal to initially apologize for the tweet, or his ignorance of its implications, brought on a huge media firestorm.
We could all agree that things may have gone a bit too far in regard to how Irving was reprimanded. But Irving also had several opportunities to avoid such scenarios. Then and still, Irving recovers from this and has gone on to be voted as a starter in this year’s NBA All-Star Game emanating from Salt Lake City Utah.
Contract Extension And Trade Request
Just as the Nets seem to have found stability, discussion of contract extension talks arises. On Jan. 26, it was reported that Irving wanted to stay with the Nets for the foreseeable future and wanted a contract extension. One week later Irving requests a trade from Brooklyn. On February 5th Kyrie was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
The question now remains, what is now in store for this franchise? We have chronicled a mixed bag of circumstances with Irving up until this point. Do the Mavericks extend Irving? Irving is a player up until this point who averages 59 games of a possible 82 per season. You may still actually sign someone to the max for that, but with all the extra that Kyrie has brought to each of his stops, does he remain a Maverick? Will the Lakers make that leap of faith in the off-season? Whatever the decision, it’ll be a heck of a gamble. As a native Brooklynite, I’m just glad it’s no longer our gamble. What’s next for Kyrie Irving? In my estimation, I’d guess, much of the same.