The Brooklyn Nets acquired disgruntled Houston Rockets superstar James Harden this past week. The deal featured multiple teams, countless players and a bevy of draft picks changing hands.
One thing it didn’t include? Kyrie Irving.
Irving has missed Brooklyn’s last five games for what has been described as ‘personal’ reasons. That said, the real reason for his absence has been widely reported.
Early Friday morning, the NBA announced that it was fining Irving $50,000 for violating Covid-19 protocols by attending a “private indoor party” last weekend without a mask. In addition, he will forfeit his pay for the outings he missed during his quarantine period – totaling more than $800,000.
Later in the day, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Irving was expected to return to the team.
“As long as he tests negative and clears protocol, Kyrie Irving will be available and expected to play for the Nets vs. Orlando on Saturday,” he revealed.
Irving’s sudden reversal and decision to rejoin his team has prompted many to ask: what changed?
A popular theory that has emerged online is that Irving’s move to sit out was actually him tanking his own trade value so that he wouldn’t be moved in a potential swap.
He accomplished what he set out to—keep himself out of a trade for Harden—and @StephenASmith gave him the assist by making the “he should retire” statement the day before. SAS helped tank Kyrie’s trade value, either knowingly or ignorantly.
— Patrick Hoey (@RealHoeyHimself) January 15, 2021
Not to go all galaxy brain, but what are the odds that Kyrie heard he was getting floated for Harden, and vanished to tank his trade value so he wouldn’t get dealt?
Or it’s just a coincidence that his sabbatical ends the second the Nets land a 3rd star. That’s possible too. https://t.co/5QNa3F7PvN
— Greg Habeeb (@Greg__Habeeb) January 15, 2021
Nets sent Kyrie away to tank his trade value so they could keep him and acquire Harden
— Dee Grizzly 🧸 (@HoodieMar29) January 15, 2021
Y’all sure Kyrie really was trippin or did he purposefully tank his trade value? 🤔🖕🏾 https://t.co/mBqalV8RjC
— $lim (@CMGarrett44) January 15, 2021
Kyrie decided not to play to tank trade stock so they get the best 3 of all time.
— max lewis (@maxml05) January 15, 2021
Hear me out: Kyrie and Harden orchestrated this whole thing together.
Step 1: Kyrie tanks his trade value by going AWOL, ensuring he’s not a part of the deal
Step 2: Beard publicly demands trade at presser
— Obi Wan Bitnobi (@obiwanbitnobi) January 14, 2021
While we will never know the truth about Irving’s thought process over the past week, stranger things have happened in the NBA than players purposely trying to thwart an unwanted trade.
If Irving really does suddenly return after an extended mysterious absence as though nothing happened, then it will certainly lend a lot of credence to this theory.
Yikes. It’s a wrap for Jackie MacMullan.https://t.co/lIFTuBiJtc
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 14, 2021