Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has requested a trade ahead of the February 9 deadline, telling the franchise he will walk in free agency in July if they can’t find a trade, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
It comes after the out of contract star was offered an extension by Brooklyn earlier this week, which was not received well by the Melbourne-born point guard.
He has not shared his list of preferred teams, but reportedly has maintained his interest in rejoining LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
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Irving’s time in Brooklyn has been turbulent since he signed in free agency in July 2019.
After becoming the ninth player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club and the fourth to do so while averaging 25 points a game, Irving refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, preventing him from playing or practising with the team for a two month stretch.
The eight-time All-Star eventually returned to the Nets as a part-time player, only playing games outside of the New York and Toronto area, where local laws required him to be vaccinated in order to play.
The 30-year-old requested and was granted permission to seek a sign-and-trade last year, but eventually returned to the Nets alongside 13-time All-Star teammate Kevin Durant, opting into a US$37 million player option.
Nets shooting guard James Harden also asked to be traded ahead of the deadline last season, ending up in Philadelphia.
In November last year, the Nets suspended Irving again, this time for refusing to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs” after he took to Twitter to share a link to an antisemitic documentary from 2018 entitled “Hebrews to Negroes”.
He is averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists on the season, shooting 48.6% from the field and 37.4% from deep.
The Nets enter the trade deadline placed 4th in the Eastern Conference.