What Does the Kyrie Irving Trade Mean for the NBA?

On February 5, league sources announced that Brooklyn Nets’ All-Star Kyrie Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick, and multiple second-round picks. This move comes four days before the trade deadline, in a deal that shocked the basketball world. Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Nets days prior, and now he gets his wish.

According to TNT and Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes plus other league sources, Irving is reportedly “ecstatic” to team up with Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. Doncic has long awaited to play with someone of Irving’s caliber. Before the trade, his best teammate throughout his five-year career was one-time All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, so this is undoubtedly pleasing for the fellow All-Star starter.

This move pushes Dallas into serious contention to win the Western Conference. They currently sit at sixth in the standings and, with time, will rise to join teams such as the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, and Denver Nuggets.

On the flip side, the question is, how will this turn out come playoff time? Two ball-dominant guards don’t look like a great fit on paper. They have less than half of the regular season to find a rhythm, and the goal would be to meet a team like the Nuggets or Grizzlies in the second or third round, not the first. Nevertheless, I think they can find success eventually.

This is probably the best long-term situation for the Mavericks organization. Irving will surely sign an extension with Dallas this offseason, and just having that type of talent should convince Doncic to commit to the franchise for years to come. Not to mention, players like Christian Wood, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Reggie Bullock can take a back seat as complimentary pieces, and prove to be effective in spot-up shooting, rebounding, and defensive roles.

As for the Nets, this puts them in an extremely tough spot. Sure, Spencer Dinwiddie is a nice piece, and Dorian Finney-Smith is a solid role player, but it is without a doubt a major downgrade from an all-world talent like Irving. Brooklyn currently sits at the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and now without the star point guard, they will surely slide down in the standings. Kevin Durant simply doesn’t have enough help.

Durant will likely pursue out of Brooklyn within the deadline or after this year’s playoffs now that he is without a real co-star. The Irving-Durant duo nearly split in the summer of 2022, when Durant requested a trade, but eventually rescinded the request after Irving picked up his player option for the 2022-23 season.

Realistically, you can’t blame KD for wanting out at this point. Kyrie Irving has caused so much drama for this franchise over the years, and although the Nets won’t have to deal with any more vaccine or social media drama, there is still someone unhappy in the Big Apple.

Durant should finish out the year and try to scrape up one last playoff run with the team, and then pack his bags for greener pastures. It would make sense for both parties if they waited to move a piece as big as Durant until the offseason, when they would have more time than just four days before the February 9 deadline.

My prediction? Dallas will prove to be a tough playoff team, once again going back to the Western Conference Finals, with Irving signing a long-term deal to stay with Doncic. As for Brooklyn, Durant finishes out the year with Brooklyn as a first-round exit, but will soon be traded over the summer.

Get ready for a wild ride, NBA fans. It’s officially trade season.

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Jed Katz is currently a Journalism student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Bergen County, NJ, Katz was a writer and editor for the Northern Highlands Regional HS newspaper, as well as a sports anchor for the morning show. He's been invested in the game for years, both being a basketball junkie and playing as a 2-year varsity basketball player. Katz produces content surrounding the NBA, NCAA, and premier high school hoops.