Ever since the Milwaukee Bucks were won the 2020-21 NBA Championship, the basketball world hasn’t seen a shortage in drama. One of the biggest stories has been about Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and his unwillingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine. As long as he’s unvaccinated, he won’t be in the Nets’ lineup.
Considering how some of the latest news is about how the Nets will no longer offer Irving an extension, it seems like his days in Brooklyn could be coming to an end. With that being said, people have begun speculating if that means that the Nets could trade him sometime in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Bovada has released odds on where Kyrie Irving could play after the 2021-22 trade deadline. According to the sportsbook, the seven-time NBA All-Star is favored to remain in Brooklyn at -700 odds.
This prediction makes sense because it would be tough for the Nets to move Irving. Yes, he’s one of the most talented guards in the NBA, however, there are some issues that come with trading for him. For starters, there’s obviously the media attention attached to him. There’s also the fact that — as an unvaccinated player — he can’t play in certain states. Not many teams would be willing to use over $72 million of cap space (assuming he accepts next year’s option) over the next two seasons if he can’t play a majority of the NBA season.
Lastly, the Nets have spent a lot of money on Irving. They likely don’t want to lose him for nothing, which means a potential partner would probably have to offer an all-star-caliber player in return. With not many of those on the market, it’s easy to see Kyrie Irving remaining in Brooklyn this year.
Where Will Kyrie Irving Play After the 2021-22 NBA Trade Deadline?
Odds via Bovada as of Thursday, October 14
- Brooklyn Nets (-700)
- Philadelphia 76ers (+500)
- Dallas Mavericks (+950)
- New Orleans Pelicans (+950)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (+1200)
An Irving for Simmons Swap?
If Kyrie Irving is moved this season, the likeliest destination is the Philadelphia 76ers at +950 odds. The 76ers have been trying to move Ben Simmons ever since they were eliminated for last season’s playoffs and even though the 25-year-old is, allegedly, re-joining the team, there may be too much animosity for him to stay in Philadelphia long-term.
The 76ers tried moving Simmons to the Portland Trail Blazers for Damian Lillard in the offseason, but nothing ever came from that. With Lillard off the table, the 76ers could turn their attention to Irving and the Nets. At the very least, the deal would benefit each side on the court.
The 76ers are have been looking for an offensive threat who’s willing to shoot the ball alongside Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving could be that guy. He averaged a career-high .502 field goal percentage on 10.2 attempts per game last season while also shooting .402 from beyond the arc. His 26.9 points per game last season would also be a big upgrade over Simmons, who averaged a bit more than half of that (14.3 PPG).
On the other hand, one of the biggest criticisms around the Nets was that they didn’t have a lot of defense after bringing in Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Their defense didn’t end up being that bad, however, it would be improved with Simmons on the floor. While he can’t shoot, Simoons is one of the league’s top defenders. He averaged 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game last season and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the second year in a row. He also wouldn’t face the pressure to shoot as much with Harden and Durant scoring the majority of points.
However, it seems like the 76ers are not interested in Irving right now, which throws a wrench into the above scenario. At the same time, anything can change in the NBA. The 76ers may just want to see how they play with Simmons and if that’s not working out, they could pivot back to Kyrie Irving. It’s unlikely that any other suitors are pursuing him right now, which gives Philadelphia time to think.
Regardless, it’s looking like this situation is far from being over any time soon.