Kyrie Irving’s trade causes ripple effect across the NBA
By Ben Morse, CNN
Some NBA trades are simple transactions. One team gets this player or draft picks and in return, the other franchise gets a player, or players, or draft capital.
But other NBA trades have a ripple effect across the league, impacting a multitude of teams in perhaps unusual ways.
This looks to be the case for the recent trade of Kyrie Irving who, earlier this week, was moved from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks.
In compensation, the Nets received guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks. The Nets also sent big man Markieff Morris to Dallas in the trade.
At first glance, Dallas gets an extra offensive weapon and Brooklyn shifts a wantaway star, but look closer and Irving’s trade doesn’t only have implications for the Mavs and the Nets: it also most notably impacts the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sharing the load
Luka Doncić couldn’t do it all on his own — try as he might.
The Mavs star has almost single-handedly driven the team’s offense this season in absence of any other star players following Jalen Brunson’s departure to the New York Knicks in the offseason.
Many of Doncić’s stats have increased this year — his points, field goal attempts, field goal percentage and usage (defined as “the percentage of team plays used by a player when they are on the floor”) have all reached career highs — it’s as if he’s Dallas’ own Hercules.
Despite all his hard work, the Mavs are just a few games above a .500 winning percentage, facing a stiff test to climb up the Western Conference rankings.
A key problem has been the time when Doncić hasn’t been on the floor, with no players to handle offensive responsibilities and take some of the load off of the 23-year-old’s shoulders when he’s resting.
The eight-time NBA All-Star is one of seven NBA players averaging at least 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season.
Over the years, Irving has shown that when he is on the court, he can handle the offense almost himself. He should make an excellent ‘Robin’ to Doncić’s ‘Batman.’
Dallas had to give up a lot to get the 30-year-old Irving, but head coach Jason Kidd believes it is a move that allows the squad to challenge for titles.
“He’s won everywhere he’s gone,” Kidd said of Irving. “We feel like the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed. We feel that getting him is going to help put us in a position to win a championship.
“To have two starters that are going to start in the All-Star Game for the Mavs is probably a first. It’s exciting. We have to be excited about this opportunity. It’s easy to look at all the talk of the negative. But let’s look at the positive and what he’s done on and off the court and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”
For Irving himself, it is a chance for a reset, not just on the court.
“I want to be places that I’m celebrated and not just kind of tolerated or just kind of dealt with in a way that makes me feel respected,” he told reporters in his first press conference as a member of the Mavericks.
“And there were times during this process in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected. And my talent, I work extremely hard at what I do, no one ever talks about my work ethic. Everyone talks about what I’m doing off the floor. So I just wanted to change my narrative and write my own story. And now I’m in Dallas, just focus on what I can control.”
When Kevin Durant signed for the Nets, it was meant to be the beginning of a new dynasty.
He did not play in the 2019/20 season due to an Achilles injury, but when he took to the court, it was alongside longtime friend James Harden and Irving after both had been acquired via free agency and trade.
With the three of them on the court, the team looked like a real title challenger.
However, injuries to Harden and off-court controversies with Irving restricted the trio of stars’ playing time. Eventually, Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers last season.
At the end of a disappointing 2021/22 season which ended in a convincing first-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics, Durant requested a trade away from the organization, sensing it was drifting.
But owner Joe Tsai remained steadfast despite the circling vultures, and Durant rowed back on his request once the organization fired its previous coach, Steve Nash. And once he and Irving both got onto the court — and new head coach Jacque Vaughn had time to implement his philosophies — the team surged up the Eastern Conference with Durant playing arguably the best basketball of his career.
Even after Durant suffered a knee injury which would keep him out for multiple weeks, the Nets remained relatively strong behind Irving’s steady play.
So following Irving’s departure, will other teams come calling for Durant sensing a moment of weakness? Will the two-time NBA champion request to leave again? And if he does, will the Nets enter a full rebuild?
Although it leaves Brooklyn restocked in terms of draft assets and rotation players, Durant’s future with the team is arguably up in the air.
One of the surprises of Irving’s trade destination was the location and team.
Many had presumed that if he were to leave, he would be reunited with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James, with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James and Irving previously enjoyed great success playing together in Cleveland between 2014 and 2017, reaching the NBA Finals in all three seasons they were teammates and winning the title in 2016.
And with the Lakers languishing at the bottom end of the Western Conference with an unbalanced roster and stars struggling to fit together, rumors linked a move for Irving at the trade deadline as a way for the team to turn its season around. Irving also reportedly favored a move to Los Angeles to be paired with James.
But the Nets chose not to do business with the Lakers in the end. According to a report from leading NBA journalist Marc Stein, one of Tsai’s “presumed objectives” was to not trade Irving to the Lakers, which was his “preferred” destination.
James said he was “definitely disappointed” that the Lakers were unable to acquire Irving.
“I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent,” James told ESPN on Monday. “But [also] someone that I had great chemistry with and know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes.
“But my focus is shifted now. My focus is shifted back to where it should be and that’s this club now and what we have in the locker room.”
It leaves the Lakers in a perilous position and needing James and Anthony Davis to play like MVPs just to reach the playoffs in a congested Western Conference. Do they make a move before the deadline to give James another weapon? Or will a frustrating season for the Purple and Gold continue?
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