Irving, who will become a free agent this summer, wants out ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline. TheLos Angeles LakersandPhoenix Sunsare already expressing interest in discussing an Irving trade and the Dallas Mavericks are expected to do so soon, sources told ESPN.
Irving did not furnish a list of preferred teams, but his marketplace is small and it's clear he is hoping that a team will trade for him with intentions of signing him to an extension in the offseason.
The Nets and Irving's agent, Shetellia Riley-Irving, had discussed an extension recently, but Brooklyn remained reluctant to rush into a long-term commitment without further evidence that Irving could stay reliable, perform at a high level and remain controversy-free, sources said.
Rival teams expect the Nets to prepare for the possibility that the trade request is a leverage play on contract talks, and that could affect how the organization moves with regards to possible Irving deals.
Irving, who is in the final year of a deal that pays him $36.9 million, has been seeking in the neighborhood of a four-year, $198.5 million maximum extension available to him until June 30, sources said.If Irving is traded, he is eligible to sign a two-year, $78.6 million extension with his new team until June 30.
The Suns have an ambitious new owner, Mat Ishbia, who is about to be approved in the coming days and a roster that could offer the Nets the best scenario for a combination of players and picks in a potential deal. The Lakers' LeBron James has been an advocate of reuniting with Irving in Los Angeles, and it's unclear if the Lakers would make available their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in a potential trade. Dallas general manager Nico Harrison has a long-standing relationship with Irving from his days as a Nike executive, and Mavericks coach Jason Kidd has also had a relationship with Irving.
Both the Lakers and Mavericks are win-now teams without the requisite talent to compete for a championship this season, and that makes them more inclined to consider an Irving deal.
However, neither team appears inclined to make a trade with the expectation of delivering Irving the long-term, max-level contract he is seeking, sources said. Both teams would be eligible to sign Irving to the two-year, $78.6 million maximum extension upon trading for him, but even rival teams with interest in acquiring him ahead of Thursday's deadline are cautious about trusting Irving with those levels of commitment, sources said.
The Lakers and Mavericks are also privately expressing limitations on offering significant trade assets for Irving, sources said.
The bigger issue for Brooklyn becomes how All-NBA star Kevin Durant responds to Irving's trade request and if it causes him to rethink his future with the organization ahead of Thursday's deadline. Numerous teams are far more interested in how that situation could play out than in trying to inquire on Irving.
Before the season, Irving had sought the possibility of a sign-and-trade, but interest around the league was minimal and Irving decided to opt into the final year of his contract. Durant had requested an offseason trade before rescinding the request in September.
The Nets are 31-20 but have lost seven of 11 games since Durant was lost to an MCL sprain. He is expected to return just prior to or after the mid-February All-Star break.
Irving, 30, is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game this season.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon and Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.