In similar remarks to his past commentary, U.S. Senator and longtime Houston sports fan Ted Cruz is again urging part-time Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving to join the Houston Rockets.
A perennial All-Star when fully available, Irving has yet to play in any home games this season due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for private sector employment. Houston does not have that rule, which allows unvaccinated players such as Irving to fully participate.
“Let Kyrie play,” Cruz said at a Tuesday news conference. “By the way, if Brooklyn won’t let Kyrie play, I’m going to make a pitch to (him) directly, ‘Kyrie, come to Houston, play for the Rockets. We’ll let you play!’ He’s a hell of a player. … This is stupid.”
In his 18 games played this season, Irving is averaging 25.9 points (47.6% FG, 40.8% on 3-pointers) and 5.4 assists in 36.2 minutes.
To put it mildly, Irving to Houston is unlikely. The trade deadline for the 2021-22 season has already passed, and Irving turns 30 years old later this month. While he can become a free agent this offseason, it’s an awkward fit for both parties, since Houston has the NBA’s worst record at the moment and is in the early stages of a youth movement.
Even if there somehow was mutual interest, the Rockets aren’t positioned to have significant salary cap space in the 2022 offseason.
Then again, with the Nets having a clear win-now emphasis around 34-year-old superstar Kevin Durant, perhaps trading Irving for a five-time All-Star in John Wall — who will be in the last year of his contract — is a better scenario than losing Irving for nothing in free agency or having him stay as only a part-time player, should the mandate stay in place.
But even if the Nets had interest, there are serious questions to be asked about whether Houston would see a 30-year-old Irving as part of its rebuilding blueprint, as well as whether an established veteran star would want to go to a team that isn’t close to short-term title contention.
It’s tough to envision all of the stars aligning, but that apparently won’t stop the Republican senator from Texas from wishing.