EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Report: Suns emerge as potential suitors for Nets G Kyrie Irving

Feb 3, 2023, 1:52 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm

The Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks have emerged as potential suitors to acquire Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

TNT’s Chris Haynes adds that Phoenix is viewed as one of the few teams capable of getting a deal done with Brooklyn that could keep both teams in pursuit of a championship.

Suns GM James Jones knows a thing or two about Irving, having played alongside him from 2014-17 as members of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving also has a prior relationship with point guard Chris Paul through the NBAPA.

The reports come after Irving requested a trade on Friday, according to multiple reports. The influx of news has quickly given what looked like a sleepy trade season a sudden jolt of life.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Irving, who is on an expiring deal, would seek a new home in free agency.

There were contract talks, Wojnarowski adds, but after a deal wasn’t reached, the request was given to the Nets.

Immediately, the question becomes which team Irving could be moved to in any shakeup. What type of compensation would it require to obtain such a talented player who is on an expiring deal and has wavered in his commitment to his current team?

Irving, 30, is averaging 27.1 points and 5.3 assists for the 31-20 Nets, who are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Likely, the Los Angeles Lakers are the first team to come up when listing off assumed potential landing spots with Irving’s former Cleveland teammate, LeBron James, pressuring ownership to make a win-now move. Los Angeles is currently 25-28 and despite the lack of player talent to trade, could fire off its draft picks to Brooklyn.

The Lakers and Irving were linked in the offseason when both Irving and Durant looked likely to find new homes then.

Beyond guessing on where Irving lands, the other shoe to drop is Kevin Durant, who last offseason himself requested a trade before recommitting to the franchise. The Phoenix Suns were one of his desired landing spots, per reports, but his contract length and a hot trade market elsewhere in the NBA made moving him incredibly difficult.

Durant, who is currently 34 years old, signed an extension before the 2021-22 season that keeps him under contract through 2025-26.

But he did so with the understanding that he would play with Irving and then-co-star James Harden, who has since been dealt. The Nets have also undergone a coaching switch, with Jacque Vaughn taking over for Steve Nash mid-year to positive results.

“I committed to this organization for four years last summer with the idea that I was going to play with that group,” Durant said in September, before the season began. “As the season went on, you seen what happened with our season. Guys in and out of the lineup, injuries, just a lot of uncertainty which built some doubt in my mind about the next four years of my career.

“I’m getting older. I want to be in a place that’s stable. Trying to build a championship culture, I had some doubts about that. I voiced them to (owner Joe Tsai).”

Ultimately, Durant talked things through and Irving also recommitted to Brooklyn. That union appears at an end less than a season later.

Durant will make $43 million by the end of this year, and the contract escalates to $53.2 million by 2025-26.

He is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game on 56% shooting and 38% accuracy from three.

Durant is currently out to rest an MCL sprain that will cost him at least another week on the sidelines. He hasn’t played since Jan. 8 but is reportedly hopeful to play by the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 19.

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