NBA erupts over 'incredible' Kyrie Irving trade news: 'Major risk'

Kyrie Irving has been traded to the Dallas Mavericks, leaving NBA fans wondering what comes next for the Brooklyn Nets.

Kyrie Irving dribbles the ball on the left, with Luka Doncic pumping his fist on the right.
Kyrie Irving has been traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a major NBA deal to pair him with superstar Luka Doncic. Pictures: Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have rocked the NBA with a bold trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, as they days tick down to the league's trade deadline. The Mavericks, helmed by fellow superstar Luka Doncic, are in the middle of a tightly-packed playoff race in the Western Conference, and are betting that the controversial guard can bolster their 28-26 record.

It's a big swing for the Mavericks, with Irving set to become a free agent ahead of next season - which could effectively render the crucial assets in guard Spencer Dinwiddie and defensive wing Dorian Finney-Smith, as well as a future draft pick, wasted assets if Irving walks away. But after making the Western Conference Finals last season, Dallas' middling record has not represented the leap into elite contention many fans had hoped for.

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Their offer however, was enough to beat strong offers from the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, both conference rivals also in need of an injection of talent to free themselves from the playoff logjam. The Lakers offered Russell Westbrook, the former MVP whose hefty contract is also due to come off the books at the end of the season, as well as first-round draft selections in seasons to come.

The Suns offered veteran point guard Chris Paul, as well as Jae Crowder and other draft considerations. But the Nets preferred the Mavericks' offer - prompting a big reaction from NBA fans.

Irving's tenure in Brooklyn can most charitably be described as enigmatic, after signing with the team alongside Kevin Durant in 2019. Injuries and off-court controversies have plagued the eight-time NBA All-Star, most recently an eight-game suspension levied by the Nets following an anti-semitism controversy last year.

Irving is averaging 27 points, five rebounds and five assists this season, and looms as a valuable addition alongside Doncic and big man Christian Wood. However on social media, not all NBA fans were convinced of the upside for Dallas.

Irving made his trade request after talks about a new contract did not go to his liking. It was first reported by ESPN and The Athletic.

Irving is eligible for a contract extension, but the Nets refused to give him one last summer. His agent and stepmother, Shetellia Irving, told Bleacher Report last week she had reached out to the Nets regarding a new deal.

Kyrie Irving's NBA future uncertain despite trade to Dallas Mavericks

Irving, whose current deal with the Nets expires after this season, is eligible for a four-year contract worth as much as $US200 million ($A289 million). Irving and the Nets were thought to be moving toward a long-term extension in 2021, when Kevin Durant signed.

Instead, Irving proved himself to be unreliable, missing games for reasons unrelated to basketball, changing the Nets' thoughts about locking into a lengthy future with the point guard. A tweet was posted to Irving's account shortly before the first reports of the trade request came out.

"To my Peers: JUST BE YOURSelf and GROW! Keep people around who CELEBRATE YOU unconditionally and appreciates all of the hard work that gets put in. Distance yourself from the folks who manipulate, hate, and hurt," read the tweet.

Brooklyn are 31-20 this season, fourth in the Eastern Conference standings entering Friday, and have gone 4-7 since fellow All-Star Durant hurt his knee in a game at Miami on January 8. Durant also had asked the Nets for a trade this past summer, before cooler heads prevailed.

Kyrie Irving celebrates while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyrie Irving is one of the NBA's most talented guards, but off-court controversies have dominated his career in recent seasons. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

And it was at this time last year that Brooklyn traded James Harden, who was part of what the Nets thought would be a Big Three of him, Durant and Irving to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that brought Australian Ben Simmons to Brooklyn.

Whatever happens between now and Thursday, this is the start of another new saga surrounding Irving, who signed along with Durant in the summer of 2019. He was suspended by the Nets for what became eight games earlier this season after the team was dismayed by his repeated failure to "unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs."

That came shortly after Irving refused to issue the apology NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed. Irving also wound up losing his long relationship with Nike as part of the massive fallout from what he tweeted and the reactions that followed.

Irving also missed much of the 2021-22 season because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which left him ineligible to play in Brooklyn's home games for much of the season because of New York City rules put in place in response to the pandemic.

with AAP

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