After a weekend that saw LeBron James and Russell Westbrook unable to even pretend to like each other for five minutes, and multiple reports that the Lakers and Nets have reached an impasse in ongoing trade talks about Kyrie Irving, it appeared that this whole saga had both reached peak silliness, and also might be set to continue for a few more weeks.
But while that latter takeaway may have been accurate, it turns out the former couldn’t be further from the truth, at least if you believe the latest rumors about Irving’s future. That’s because, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, someone described as a “source close to Irving” is claiming that he plans to play for the Nets next season, and doesn’t even want out:
Another source close to Irving told The Post that the All-Star point guard not only never asked for a trade, but has had every intention of playing for Brooklyn — with or without Durant.
“How did we get into this situation about trade, when he opted in?” the source asked rhetorically. “Here is the situation. He opted in, which means he had and he has every intention of playing with the Brooklyn Nets. KD decides he wants out and now everybody is talking about trading Kyrie, right?
“Kyrie has not asked for a trade. Now, if the Nets don’t want him, that’s something totally different. Kyrie has not said he wants a trade. He opted in. [So where did] the trade conversations come from? Is it because, KD requested a trade and now everybody’s like let’s trade Ky? Kyrie opted in.”
OK, but seriously: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
But all right, let’s talk about this. I’m going to channel my inner Brian Windhorst and ask some questions about what is going on in Brooklyn. Because this was a strange leak. A very strange leak.
I wonder: What would a source close to Irving who speaks a bit like a lawyer representing some sort of client have to gain by telling a reporter this? Is it out of the goodness of their heart? Was their childhood dream just to be quoted anonymously in the New York Post, and they wanted to check that off their bucket list? Does Kyrie really just want to let Nets fans know he’s planning to play for them, but is somehow unable to do so without a nameless leak?
I guess, in theory, all those things are possible, but this also just happens to sound a lot like a few possible things...
- Longer term, this could be a bit of damage control to make the Nets look like the “bad guys” for dumping Kyrie when he just really, really wanted to fulfill his commitment to his hometown team and see them in the fall, and definitely didn’t only opt-in because he found he had no better options after being given permission to seek sign-and-trades.
- Also, probably more importantly, there may be a hope here that a leak like this would get the Lakers to up their offer and speed this up rather than taking their time and not wanting to negotiate against themselves, as they have done so far.
- Finally, this may be an effort to slow the leaks of teams dialing up reporters to specifically tell them, sometimes profanely, that they really don’t want Kyrie, which can’t be great for his brand. Yeah, well he doesn’t want to play for you, either! He just loves the Nets so much!
Any of these could be possible motivations for someone close to Irving — perhaps someone who he sometimes directs questions about his future to? — to let it be known on his behalf that he’d be just fine going and back and playing for the Nets, and describe in clinical terms how actually, he showed he is totally committed by opting in, something no player that wants out has ever done, obviously. I wonder who would fit that description?
Like Kyrie has a habit of occasionally doing, I’m just asking questions.