Nets’ Kyrie Irving Claims Stigma Reduced Offseason Options

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

This offseason, we saw numerous All-Stars on the move in the NBA via trade. Three from the 2022 game alone were traded this offseason in Dejounte Murray, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Had Kyrie Irving had his way, it could have been a fourth former All-Star.

Irving explored leaving the Brooklyn Nets early in the offseason as he possessed a player option for the 2022-23 season. He was seeking a long-term contract, but that was something the Nets were unwilling to commit to. As a result, he sought out a team that may be willing to give him one.

The mercurial point guard was met with a relatively cold market. A long-term deal was nowhere to be found, as the Los Angeles Lakers were seemingly the only team linked to him as a potential suitor.

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Ultimately, Irving realized that it was best to return to the Nets and rebuild his value, so he opted into his contract.

During the team’s Media Day, Irving was asked about how close he was to leaving the franchise. According to him, there were options but the stigma surrounding him limited them and he felt that it was unfair to be labeled the way he was at times.

“Yeah. There were options but not many because the stigma of whether or not I wanted to play or whether or not I’m committed to the team, which I thought was really unfair at times.”

There is no doubt that Irving is a max-contract level player when it comes to skills on the court. He is capable of doing things with the basketball in his hands that not many people in the world can do. Despite the circumstances surrounding him last season, Irving still managed to average 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 37.6 minutes per game.

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Unfortunately for him, more than just performance on the court goes into receiving a max contract. In virtually every other facet of what goes into the decision-making for receiving such a deal, Irving falls short.

In three seasons with the Nets, Irving has played in only 103 regular season games. Some of that is because of injuries, while other times it is self-inflicted. Irving attended his sister’s birthday party, violating the league’s health and safety protocols, leading to a fine and missed games. Irving also refused the COVID-19 vaccine, which is within his rights to do, but made him ineligible for home games at Barclays Center and games at Madison Square Garden and in Toronto.

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What Irving sees as a stigma was a legitimate concern for organizations as he is not someone that can be counted on in terms of availability. If you are not able to stay on the court, you are a risk for franchises. Professional franchises are in the business of mitigating risks and taking on Irving is just too big of one for many teams.