The most famous Flat Earther in the NBA is heading to one of the flattest states in the country. It has been reported that the Brooklyn Nets are sending Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2027 second-round pick, and a first- and second-round pick in 2029. Brooklyn will also send Markieff Morris to Dallas. This all comes a couple days after Irving abruptly demanded a trade from Brooklyn and then missed the following day's game with an apparent calf injury. So he, his ego and the drama that surrounds him are en route to prove "Everything's Bigger In Texas."
Now, when big trades go down across American sports, a lot of the discourse immediately turns into figuring out who the winner of the trade is. In this instance, I think it more practical to figure out who loses the least. Let's explore all the possible losers and judge how badly they lose on a scale of 1-10.
The LA Teams
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When it was announced Irving had demanded a trade, both Los Angeles teams emerged along with Dallas as possible places where he could land. The Clippers have a decent amount of resources, an owner willing to make splashy moves, and a need for a point guard. They also have a significant amount of experience with big-name superstars sitting on the bench, and that's what Irving has been best at during his time in Brooklyn. Across town, the Lakers need whatever help they can get while also finding a way to move on from Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James has been very vocal about wanting help -- and wanting to reunite with the man who helped him take down the 73-9 Warriors back in Cleveland. So James did not take the trade news well:
Maybe It?s Me
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 6, 2023
Ultimately, the package that the Clippers reportedly offered for Irving was turned down by Brooklyn, and it seems that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka never even got into the sweepstakes. Arguably, the worst part of that is the fact we won't see a forced awkward reunion between Kevin Durant and Westbrook in Brooklyn.
With all that in mind, we'll give the Clippers a 4/10 for losing out on another cog in the load-management machine, the Lakers a 6/10 because that's LeBron's number, and NBA fans a 7/10 for the lack of the above reunion.
The Brooklyn Nets
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A little over a year ago, the Brooklyn Nets had Durant, Irving and James Harden all on the same team. Now, they have Durant, Ben Simmons and ... who would the third person in this scenario be? Seth Curry? Joe Harris? Nic Claxton?
The Nets weathered a trade demand from Durant this past summer, then navigated the firing of head coach Steve Nash at the same time that Irving supported an antisemitic film and NEVER REALLY APOLOGIZED FOR IT. It should have come as no surprise to anyone that the Nets weren't really interested in giving Irving a max extension. After a seemingly endless parade of controversies and never knowing if he was going to suit up on any given night, in no way did he earn the money he was asking. But you can't tell Irving that -- hence, the trade request.
Brooklyn is getting a moderate haul for Irving. Dinwiddie is not the best version of himself anymore; but the best version of himself came the last time he was a Net, so maybe a return to Barclays Center is just what he needs. Finney-Smith is one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league. And the picks Brooklyn is getting could end up being on the high side if this all blows up in Dallas' face.
The real issue for Brooklyn is what this does for its ability to retain Durant, and the jury is still out on that. They have him under contract for quite a bit longer, but he can't be excited about lining up with the Ghost of Ben Simmons as the Robin to his Batman. It's therefore hard to judge quite yet how much Brooklyn is losing in this trade. But for now, we'll go ahead and give them a 5/10, which is really quite something for losing a superstar point guard having an All-Star season.
The Dallas Mavericks
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So why did Dallas do this? In a word, Luka. The Mavs need to keep Luka Doncic at all costs, or they are going to slide back down the standings. And Doncic needs help. As good as he is, the pace he's being forced to play at is not sustainable, nor is it something he's going to want to do forever. They tried to get him another superstar in Kristaps Porzingis, but that failed. They thought they had a great homegrown running mate for him in Jalen Brunson, but he left for the Knicks in the offseason. So when Irving became available, Dallas was the first team most analysts threw out as a potential landing space. And Mark Cuban came through. But what did they really get?
Doncic is a top scorer, with the second-highest usage rate in the NBA. And Irving is not an off-the-ball type of player. The Mavs' biggest weakness is on defense, and Irving is not a premier defender. Finney-Smith was -- too bad he's heading to Brooklyn. The Mavs seem to have a lot of fun and are a tight-knit locker room. Irving hasn't yet met one of those he can't tear apart. Honestly, where's the upside here?
Well, it means Doncic doesn't have to play the insane minutes he has been playing at the point, and it will hopefully mean the scoring doesn't drop quite as much when he isn't on the floor. But that's not a lot of return on what could be a significant investment. It's hard to imagine Dallas not trying everything to sign Irving to an extension to avoid this being a very expensive six-month rental. And if the goal is to convince Doncic to stay by showing him they are investing around him, then they have to splash the cash to keep Irving and hope he doesn't do to them exactly what he just did to Brooklyn and Boston before that. So it's hard to say just how big Dallas loses here. If Doncic stays, it could be something close to a 3/10. If not, it's a solid 10/10.
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He's the last piece of this puzzle -- the piece that always seems to be missing, in fact. Irving will likely get his money. He can't really ruin his reputation any further, and he actually has a small chance of repairing it somewhat. He gets to play for Mark Cuban and alongside Luka Doncic, which can't be a bad thing. And he gets to flex those conspiracy muscles he loves so much in the city where JFK was shot. But still, it's Kyrie Irving, so his score is now and forever 1,000,000/10 on the loser scale. That's just the way it is.
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