Kyrie Irving Wondered If Nets Were Going to Trade or Release Him During 2022 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2022

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots a free throw against the Boston Celtics during Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2022 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

During his brief exile from the Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving grew unsure of his future with the team.

The seven-time All-Star said on The ETCs with Kevin Durant (via NetsDaily) returning to the court had a freeing effect because a number of thoughts ran through his head while he was away from the team:

"There was nothing to lose, you know? It was only the journey to enjoy at that point, because I was sitting at home and — I don’t even want to say sitting at home, I was wondering at home what my future was going to look like, you know? Whether I was going to be traded, whether I was going to be released, whether I was going to get the opportunity to be on another team, how I was going to spin this for myself in a positive way."

The Nets announced last October that Irving wouldn't be practicing or playing with the team because he was unvaccinated against COVID-19. New York City had issued a local mandate requiring business employees to get the vaccine.

He didn't make his debut until a Jan. 5 win over the Indiana Pacers, and even then he had to remain a part-time player who was unable to suit up at home games until March, when the city's regulations had changed.

It doesn't appear Irving's Brooklyn tenure was in any serious jeopardy—but probably not for the reasons one would suspect. 

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Oct. 12 that some teams around the NBA thought Brooklyn might be amenable to a "significant trade offer" for Irving. SNY's Ian Begley followed up in December to report the team "remained open to talking trades involving Irving."

However, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported on April 27 "there were crickets" with regard to Irving's trade market.

Following Brooklyn's first-round playoff exit, the future of the 30-year-old is once again a subject of specultaion.

Irving has a $36.5 million player option for 2022-23, but he'll presumably opt out in pursuit of a bigger, more long-term payday. Although he indicated he plans on returning, he expressed the same sentiment toward the Boston Celtics before leaving them in July 2019.

There's also the more broad question about whether the Nets should re-sign Irving at all and if so, for how long.

"[Kevin] Durant and his teammates stood by Kyrie all season. But KD had to play nearly 40 minutes every night, for months, to lead Brooklyn to a play-in spot in part due to Irving’s lack of availability," O'Connor wrote. "Can KD fully trust Irving to be there when he needs him the most in the future?"

The unease and uncertainty Irving felt months ago while watching the Nets from afar might return.