Trade grades: Kyrie Irving edition


On February 6, 2023, the Brooklyn Nets started the team’s rebuild by trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks after Kyrie requested a trade from the organization. This trade finally brought a star over to Dallas to play alongside Luka Dončić, but was the cost too much? Did Brooklyn really get back players that can help them during a rebuild? Who really won in the aftermath of this trade? Let’s take a look at this week’s trade grades.

The full details of the trade were as follows: The Dallas Mavericks traded Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2027 second round pick, a 2029 second round pick, and a 2029 first round pick. All of this was in exchange for Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris. The Brooklyn Nets also received two trade exceptions.

Let’s start by analyzing the trade on the Dallas Mavericks’ side. It looks like the team finally did something right, or did it?

The main talking point here is Kyrie Irving. A while ago, Markieff Morris used to be a good role player that any contending team could use, but he has been slowing down too much due to age. He is unable to play consistent defense and averages 3.6 points scored per game this season. In contrast, Kyrie is an exceptional player. He is extremely gifted when it comes to creating shot opportunities, weather it is for himself or for others, and he handles a basketball like no one we have ever seen. I have no doubt that someone like him would play well with Luka, with both of them being gravitating forces on the floor. Focus on stopping one of them, and the other starts to score like crazy. Try to defend both of them and they will feed the ball to guys like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Christian Wood. You can’t stop a team that creates constant looks for their guys.

However, maybe you can stop a team like that. Since the trade, despite good play from Kyrie and Luka, the Mavs are 1-3 in games where both play together, and that one win was against a tanking San Antonio Spurs squad. On top of that, you have the fact that Kyrie is known for his off-court antics, particularly his recent bout with anti-semitism, and the fact that Kyrie only has the rest of this season under contract. Kyrie has not been “the most trustworthy player” for teams, requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets, and his promise to re-sign with the Celtics was broken. If Kyrie leaves your team, you just gave up a haul and a half for a rental on Kyrie for one-third of the season, and then Luka could end up angry at the organization.

Overall, this deal looks really good on paper. Put two creation-heavy players on the same team and let them do their magic. But, the paper does not always tell the entire story. This is a risky move for the Mavericks, but if it pays off, the organization could be a team to watch during the playoffs, and for that reason, I will give the Mavericks a grade of B+.

This trade keeps getting more weird for the Brooklyn Nets as time goes on. When the deal first went down, getting players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith in return for Kyrie seemed like a good move. Dinwiddie is a pretty good offensive point guard who gives you around seventeen points and five assists this season, even if he cannot truly replace Kyrie. Dinwiddie’s only real downside is his defense, which Finney-Smith makes up for. Dorian Finney-Smith is a powerhouse on defense and someone you never want to see guarding you.

The biggest problem about this trade is the Kevin Durant trade that happened afterward. Before that trade happened, it looked like the Nets were one trade away from going back to being contenders. The addition of someone like Fred VanVleet or D’Angelo Russell, both second tier stars to amplify the roster, and the Nets go back to being in the NBA title conversation. However, without Kevin Durant, this team has no chance of making it past the first round. It is not like this team is absent of good players, but it is without a best player who is the focal point on the roster.

Overall, this deal looks sketchy on paper for the Nets. A rebuilding team taking on win-now talent does not seem too conducive to its efforts, but take in the factor that Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith will surely fetch the Nets multiple first round picks during trade talks in the off-season, and this trade seems like it deserves a grade of B.

The Dallas Mavericks look like the biggest risk-takers of the trade deadline, taking a championship or bust stance, and the Nets seem to be kicking off a long rebuild.

In my next edition, I will grade the Russell Westbrook blockbuster 3-team trade between the Los Angeles Lakers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Utah Jazz.