Nets make Kyrie Irving first to do this since Carmelo Anthony

New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks

The Brooklyn Nets traded Kyrie Irving on Sunday afternoon, sending him to Dallas to play alongside Luke Doncic for the Mavericks. The transaction marks an end to a saga that was quick to play out, as the Nets spent just a couple of days weighing their options after Irving demanded a trade.

The reason for him wanting to leave Brooklyn is still widely unknown, but so is Kyrie. The project seemed to be doomed from the start, as you had two of the most volatile and polarizing figures in the league in he and Kevin Durant in the same locker room. There were strides made with the two, and the Nets have been contenders in the East since their arrival, but Irving and Durant ended up playing a grand total of 71 games together over two-and-a-half seasons.

Kyrie Irving First Since Carmelo Anthony To Be Traded As All-Star Starter

Nets make Kyrie Irving first to do this since Carmelo Anthony

The reasons had to be far deeper than basketball. With Irving, the Nets are one of the most talented teams in the league, and were in the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference standings when he demanded a trade. They were not a bottom feeding team that a superstar wanted to get away from. They are not in the middle of a rebuild. Instead, they sit 12 games above .500 and 4.5 games between themselves and the play-in tournament.

So if it felt rare that such an elite player on a semi-successful team would want out so quickly in the middle of the season, it’s because it is. The last time that an NBA player was traded in the same year that he was named as a starter in the All-Star game? Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo demanded a traded, too

Anthony was disgruntled by the start of his 8th year as a member of the Denver Nuggets, and had reportedly requested a trade at the beginning of the season. His wishes went unfulfilled until the trade deadline, when Denver shipped him off to play for the New York Knicks and with Amare Stoudamire.

It was an odd time for a trade. Anthony was averaging 25 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game for the Nuggets that season, and had just been a starter in the All-Star game. But a demand is a demand, and the Nuggets ended up with a few scrap pieces and Danilo Gallinari in exchange.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith may not be scrap pieces, and we may very well look back on this trade and see the Nets as the winners if the Irving/Doncic pairing doesn’t work out for whatever reason. But a superstar being traded mid-season is a rarity, and Irving has become the first to do so since 2011.

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