The Kyrie Irving trade hurts the Nets and the Rockets

Houston Rockets v Brooklyn Nets
Houston Rockets v Brooklyn Nets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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The Brooklyn Nets have traded Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a 2029 unprotected first-round, and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029, according to reports. Markieff Morris will also head to Dallas as part of the deal. 

The mid-season blockbuster came quickly after Irving requested a trade following failed contract extension talks with the Nets. The addition of Irving will give the Dallas Mavericks the long-sought-after co-star to pair with Luka Doncic, and the Nets have added two good players to build one of the deepest rosters in the league around Kevin Durant.  

The Houston Rockets, while not a participant in the trade, have almost as much at stake as the Mavericks and Nets do. Ever since the Rockets traded James Harden to the Nets for three first-round picks and four pick swaps through the 2027 draft, all unprotected, the two franchises’ fates have been bound together. If the Nets falter, the Rockets prosper, and if the Nets succeed, the Rockets lose out. 

The Kevin Durant question looms large

The single biggest question in the aftermath of the Kyrie Irving trade is what it means for Kevin Durant. Durant remains one of the best players in the NBA, and his mere presence makes almost any roster competitive. The Nets are 26-13 this season when Durant has played and 6-7 in games he has missed. As long as Durant remains a Net, they have an incredibly high floor, but will losing his co-star cause him to once again request a trade?

The Rockets are surely hoping that Durant views the current roster as inadequate to compete at the highest level. Even with Irving, the Nets were an incredibly deep team, but they now lack the high-end talent usually associated with championship-caliber teams. 

As we saw in the 2021 NBA playoffs, Durant is only capable of carrying a ragtag crew of NBA role players so far. With how strong the Eastern Conference is at the top, it wouldn’t be a shock if Durant looks to move on from Brooklyn. However, even if Durant does ask for a trade, it’s unlikely the Nets will completely bottom out.