According to league insider Shams Charania, there’s an “expectation” Kyrie Irving has played his final game as a Brooklyn Net, turning his back on the “super team” he helped form with Kevin Durant in 2019. Irving has already identified New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas and Miami as his preferred landing spots, but what does the Kyrie conundrum mean for Durant? The former MVP briefly addressed the topic on his podcast, reiterating he has no input on Kyrie’s decision.
“This is much bigger than me. Being a free agent is one of the most important times in your career,” said Durant. “It’s something that there’s so much out of my control that I don’t want to be a part of it. We’ll see what happens though.”
Durant can deflect all he wants, but that won’t stop the media from speculating on his future with Brian Windhorst suggesting the All-Star forward could be a target for the Miami Heat, who were a Jimmy Butler three away from reaching the NBA Finals this spring.
“The godfather move is not to trade for Kyrie Irving,” Windhorst told Ryan Clark on Get Up. “The godfather move is to let the Kyrie Irving situation blow up and wait for Kevin Durant to say he wants out of there. That’s the Miami Heat move.”
Lying in wait has always been Pat Riley’s MO, proceeding patiently and pouncing when the moment is right. Chris Broussard recently opined the Heat should offer All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo for Irving and Ben Simmons. That proposal was widely mocked, illustrating the larger point that orchestrating a trade of this magnitude is much easier said than done with salaries, cap space, contract clauses and draft compensation, among other factors to consider.
However, as we’ve seen time and again throughout the NBA’s player empowerment era, if you’re willing to make a big enough stink, abandoning all sense of professionalism and obligation (a blueprint followed by Simmons, James Harden and Anthony Davis, among other disgruntled stars), you can facilitate a trade practically anywhere. Which begs two very important questions—does Durant have it in him to make a mess of things and, if Kyrie does end up leaving, can the Nets be salvaged? Only Durant can answer that, though, as alluded to by Windhorst, he may have more leverage than you think.