The Boston Celtics had to be sitting back and smiling Friday when Kyrie Irving put himself at the center of NBA drama for yet another time in his career.
Irving reportedly requested a trade and told the Brooklyn Nets he wants to be dealt before next Thursday’s trade deadline. And the Celtics should want the Nets to give into Irving this time.
If the Nets do decide to trade Irving, with most of the rumored suitors hailing from the Western Conference, it would be a positive development for the Celtics as they try to make their way back to the NBA Finals.
An Irving-less Nets squad would present one less roadblock in the Eastern Conference for the Celtics even though Brooklyn could still be problematic with Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons leading the way. But the Nets would be severely hampered without another legitimate scoring threat to share the floor with Durant.
The Nets showed signs they were finally putting it all together this season and due to their elite talent, could pose a major threat to the Celtics despite having lost 10 straight games to their divisional rival, including a 43-point shellacking on Wednesday. Brooklyn won 18 of 20 games from late November to early January, with one of those two defeats coming to the Celtics.
But good times don’t last in Brooklyn. Durant injured his knee Jan. 8 in a win over the Miami Heat and that started the Nets downward spiral. Then, after Irving stayed away from controversy for a couple of months, he lit a match with his trade request and made the Nets a dumpster fire once again.
Even if Brooklyn doesn’t acquiesce to Irving’s demands, the Nets will most likely be a dysfunctional group with another lost season ahead for them.
But there’s always the flip side, and a much more optimistic alternative, that somehow the Nets could pull it all together again. It seems like there’s a better chance at cashing a winning lottery ticket than that occurring. But there still is the faintest possibility of getting Irving to quit his shenanigans and keep Durant and Simmons healthy enough to make a postseason run in the Eastern Conference since they definitely have plenty of talent to do so.
That seems far-fetched given Irving’s erratic behavior, but it could be worth another last-ditch try.
And that’s why the Celtics should root for the Nets to wipe their hands clean of Irving and not have to imagine what could happen if Brooklyn actually figured things out once and for all.