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Kyrie Irving: “When Kevin Durant made the trade request, I feel we got better”

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Sports Editor
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Kyrie Irving: "When Kevin Durant made the trade request, I feel we got better"
USA Today Network

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is now more optimistic leading into the 2022-23 NBA season, following the trade request and offseason drama spurred by Kevin Durant.

Moving forward, the seven-time All-Star believes the events that transpired will help improve the team. “When Kev made that request, I feel like we got better,” Irving told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

“Afterwards. Not initially, but now where we are now, I feel like we can honestly say we got better, with the principles that are needed for success.”

A couple of NBA betting sites are giving the Nets the fourth-best odds to win the championship in 2023. Will Brooklyn win a title this season with Durant and Irving? Some sportsbooks are anticipating an NBA Finals appearance.

“Without going through some test in the summertime or during the season, we wouldn’t be able to be as close and bonded as we are now,” continued Kyrie Irving.

Last season, the 11-year veteran made appearances in only 29 games. Because he refused the COVID-19 vaccines, the guard was ineligible to participate in home games at Barclays Center until March.

During the 2021-22 season, Irving averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Plus, he shot 46.9% from the field and 41.8% from 3-point range.

Kyrie Irving feels the Kevin Durant trade drama during the offseason has helped improve the Nets

Irving also opened up about earlier regrets during his playing career. “There were a lot of things that happened in the business that I didn’t understand,” explained the guard when referring to his trade request with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.

“When I asked for a trade from Cleveland, the one thing that I look back on is: Did I exhaust as many opportunities to get closer to guys when I felt some type of difference?”

“There was a lot of things that happened in the business that I didn’t understand,” Kyrie Irving reiterated. “Asking for a trade — I don’t think it was my time to ask for a trade.”

“And especially to go to Boston, who was No. 2 or No. 1 in our conference, it’s just right down the street. I’m grateful that I had my time there because it was one of the most historical franchises that again, I did not know the power of our industry.”

The Nets finished 44-38 (.537) and seventh overall in the Eastern Conference standings last season. Then, the Boston Celtics swept them in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

In the offseason, the front office traded a 2023 first-round draft pick to the Utah Jazz for Royce O’Neale. Brooklyn also signed former Pacers forward T.J. Warren.

Of course, Kyrie Irving exercised his $36,934,550 player option for the 2022-23 season. Quite a few NBA analysts are expecting the Irving-Durant duo to come to an end after this season. Some fans are also expecting a potential mid-season trade.

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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