In the modern NBA, Kyrie Irving’s trade request is not out of the ordinary. The eight-time All-Star is looking for a long-term contract approaching his maximum salary, and he has informed the Brooklyn Nets that he plans to leave in free agency if he is not traded before next Thursday’s deadline. But, the open market won’t have enough cap space to give Irving the max deal he desires, so his only realistic path to getting it will be through the Bird Rights Brooklyn currently holds on him. With that in mind, there are six teams that can credibly convince themselves that they are one Kyrie Irving away from winning it all: the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, and Orlando Magic.
The Lakers lead the pack as the obvious favorite, as they have been in talks to acquire Irving since July. However, the Lakers have the most guard-heavy rotation in basketball and they have failed to find a satisfactory alternative for their oft-discussed “Russell Westbrook plus 2027 and 2029 first-round picks” trade package.
The Miami Heat, sitting at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference after coming one shot short of the Finals last season, have been suspiciously quiet ahead of the 2023 deadline. Irving might be their second chance to land a star, as when he asked for a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017, Miami was on his short list. The Heat can put up to three first-round picks on the table with a bit of cooperation from Oklahoma City, whom the Heat currently owe a protected pick to.
The Dallas Mavericks are another team that could make a move for Irving. Luka Doncic wants the Mavericks to make a trade and their resistance has made sense up until now. However, six months from now, they will convey their 2023 first-round pick to the Knicks and officially complete the Kristaps Porzingis trade. That could be the perfect opportunity for the Mavericks to make a move for Irving if they are willing to part with some of their young talent.
Kyrie Irving’s trade request is an attempt to secure his long-term future and ensure he gets the max contract he desires. With the open market unlikely to provide him with the deal he wants, Irving has to get traded to get the money he desires. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Dallas Mavericks are the three teams most likely to make a move for Irving. Will one of them be able to pull off a deal before the trade deadline? Only time will tell.