Kyrie Irving to miss Nets’ game, day after trade request

Kyrie Irving will not play for the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, a day after he told the team he would like to be traded.

The Nets said Irving’s absence was due to right calf soreness, adding him to the injury report for their game against Washington. Irving had not been listed on the report either Friday night or Saturday morning.

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Irving was reportedly asking for a contract extension as recently as last week, with his agent and stepmother, Shetellia Irving, saying “the ball is in the Nets’ court.” With no deal in hand, Irving on Friday expressed his wishes to move on, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press. 

While his wish list of potential destinations has not been made public, Irving is reportedly still interested in playing for the Lakers, which explored a trade for him this past summer. In addition to the Lakers, the Mavericks, Suns and Heat have also shown interest in Irving, per multiple reports

This latest development comes seven months after teammate and close friend Kevin Durant requested one from the Nets last offseason before pulling the request prior to the start of the 2022-23 season. Irving remains productive on the court, averaging 27.1 points and 5.3 assists per game to earn him another All-Star nod. 

The 12-year veteran was embroiled in controversy this past November, however, upon sharing a link to an anti-Semitic documentary, and initially failed to apologize and denounce the movie. Brooklyn suspended Irving, and he returned to the lineup after missing eight games.

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The Nets, still playing without Durant because of a sprained knee ligament, have two more games after Saturday before the trade deadline Thursday afternoon.

Irving signed with the Nets prior to the 2019-20 season. After a shoulder injury cut his debut season with the Nets to just 25 games, Irving, along with Durant, returned the following season to make Brooklyn one of the best teams in basketball. He scored 26.9 points per game in 2020-21 as the Nets, who added James Harden early in the season, went 48-24. They fell to the Bucks in the conference semifinals, after both Irving and Harden were beset by injuries.

Irving then missed the first two-plus months of the following season — he was ineligible to play home games in New York City and the Nets did not allow him to play on the road. By January, Brooklyn changed its stance against Irving playing part-time, and he made a full return in March. The Nets, though, finished with a seventh seed and were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics, one of Irving’s former teams.

Entering the 2022 offseason, it was unclear whether Irving would remain in Brooklyn amid Durant’s tenuous status. Seeking an extension, Irving was surrounded by heavy trade speculation before accepting his $37 million player option for the final season of his four-year contract.

The Nets are 31-20 this season and currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Durant has been out of the lineup since Jan. 8 due to a knee injury. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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