The Brooklyn Nets appeared to have turned around their season when they won 12 straight games in December and early January. The star-studded Nets settled into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just 5 1/2 games out of first entering Friday's play.
But now, Kyrie Irving has decided he wantsout, reportedly requesting a trade Friday ahead of next Thursday's league deadline.
Predictably, the stunning twist in the Brooklyn melodrama has reverberated to Las Vegas, where the team's title odds have lengthened at more than one sportsbook.
The Nets were 700 to win the NBA title at BetMGM as of Friday morning. By the evening, they had plummeted to 1400.
It was a similar story at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Nets were at 700 to win the title at the start of the season and 550 on Jan. 5, right after that 12-game win streak. But the odds there also shifted to 1400 in the wake of Irving's trade request.
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly expected to explore a trade for Irving, and the mercurial point guard in turn is interested in reuniting with former Cleveland teammate LeBron James.
The Lakers are in a far worse position to win a title than the Nets; Los Angeles entered Friday in 12th place in the Western Conference at 25-28. Yet their odds to win the NBA title leapt from 4000 at 10 a.m. Friday to 3000 after the Irving reports broke.
This season alone has been a rocky ride for Irving, who still has managed to score 27.1 points per game with 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 40 contests despite off-the-court issues.
Irving was suspended by the Nets on Nov. 3 following his social media posts that promoted a movie featuring antisemitic themes. He sat out eight games and apologized before he returned, while saying, "I'm not anti-Jewish or any of that."
The incident led to Nike ending its eight-year partnership with Irving, who turns 31 next month.
In the 2021-22 season, Irving did not make his debut until Jan. 5 after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Even after he returned, he was not able to play in home games because of COVID-19 protocols in New York City. He didn't make his home season debut until late March.
In total, Irving played in just 29 games in 2021-22, averaging 27.4 points with 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Irving's lack of availability reportedly led to a rift with former teammate James Harden, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers a year ago.
In 12 NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-17), Celtics (2017-19) and Nets, Irving has averaged 23.3 points with 5.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He won his only NBA title in 2016 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while playing alongside James.
--Field Level Media