Nets improve to 77-58 without Kyrie Irving behind Cam Thomas’ career night, disgruntled star mulls sitting out rest of season if not traded

Kyrie Irving, Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets

Cam Thomas scored a career-high 44 points off the bench to lead the Brooklyn Nets to an inspiring 23-point comeback in a 125-123 win over the stunned Washington Wizards Saturday night as they prepare to move on without disgruntled star Kyrie Irving, who requested a trade.

The Nets have improved to 7-4 without Irving this season and 77-58 overall since he signed with the team in 2019.

According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, the Nets plan to sit out Irving until a deal is finalized ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. A New York Post report said Irving is still weighing whether he should sit out the remainder of the season if he remains a Net after the trade deadline.

“We responded,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said after the win in their first game since Irving demanded a trade. “Definitely a shift in our mentality and we got rewarded for it.”

Vaughn said they are all in agreement on Irving not showing up.

Without their remaining star, with Kevin Durant still sidelined by an MCL injury, several Nets players stepped up big time.

Edmond Sumner, who started in lieu of Irving, also scored a career-high 29 points, while Nic Claxton delivered another 15 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. Patty Mills added 13 off the bench.

The 21-year-old Thomas became the third youngest player in the history of the NBA to score 40-plus points off the bench. And he did it in only 29 minutes, making him the only second player in Nets history to achieve it since Stephon Marbury’s 41 points in 29 minutes on Nov. 11, 2000 against the now-defunct Seattle Supersonics.

Brooklyn has been fielding offers from several teams interested in acquiring the disgruntled Irving, who declined the Nets’ offer filled with guarantee stipulations. Irving is eligible to sign a four-year extension with the Nets up to $198.5 million until June 30.

But that ship has already sailed.

If Irving is traded, his new team will only be allowed to sign him to a two-year, $78.6 million extension until June 30. Irving will likely decline that, but his new team will retain his Bird rights, meaning they can go over the cap to re-sign him to a four-year deal in the offseason.

Clippers join Irving pursuit

The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly have joined the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks in the Irving sweepstakes.

The Athletic’s Law Murray reported after the Clippers’ 134-128 overtime win over the New York Knicks Saturday night that John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, and Luke Kennard seemed to be the primary trade candidates in a potential Irving deal.

The 32-20 Nets, who remained as the fourth seed in the East after Friday’s comeback win, are believed to be seeking a package of win-now players instead of draft capital to keep their title window open with Durant.

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