NEW YORK -- When Kyrie Irving's trade request was reported on Friday, Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton's phone started going crazy.
"I was taking a nap," Claxton said before Brooklyn's 125-123 win against the Washington Wizards on Saturday. "And I looked in one of my group chats and I saw it, and I was like, 'Wow.' Just caught me off guard. But it is what it is."
Nets wing Royce O'Neale said he was "surprised" by Irving's trade request, adding that he found out the "same way everybody else did: Twitter."
"We're just like everybody else," Claxton said. "We're caught off guard."
Irving's future in Brooklyn is uncertain. He "reported some calf soreness," coach Jacque Vaughn said, so he missed the Wizards game. Claxton said he learned that Irving would be out of the lineup "when I got here."
Before the game, Vaughn said he wasn't sure whether or not Irving would be at Barclays Center. Afterward, Vaughn said that Irving was not in the building and it was an excused absence. The Nets started guard Edmond Sumner in his place, and Sumner scored a career-high 29 points in a career-high 39 minutes. Brooklyn was down by 23 points in the first quarter, trailed by 18 at halftime and came back on the strength of a career night from wing Cam Thomas, who scored 19 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think there was a little trickle effect why it was a 23-point deficit or whatever it was," Nets guard Patty Mills said. "I think it's adversity, it's distractions, it's stuff away from the court that probably saw us be affected by that at the beginning of the game. It's just about trying to regroup [and get] the guys together. And I think we just went down that path a little bit and it took us to get down that much, take a little bit of a backside-beating, before we realized and could regroup at halftime in the locker room."
Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant (sprained right MCL) and Ben Simmons (left knee soreness). Seth Curry left the game early in the third quarter with left adductor tightness and Markieff Morris was ruled out for the second half because of left knee soreness.
"It was weird playing out there, especially in the first half, with lineups that have never been out there together," Claxton said. "So we just all had to settle in as a group and come out and fight."
The Nets have two more games before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Vaughn did not say whether or not he expects Irving to be in uniform when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
"I'm not going to look forward," Vaughn said.
Asked if Irving had directly told Vaughn that he wants a trade or explained his rationale, Vaughn said: "I didn't ask those questions. There's a business side to this thing and there's a human side to this thing. I elected to touch on the human side, check on him as an individual. I'll leave the business side to [team president] Sean [Marks] and that group."
Claxton said that he communicated with Irving after the news -- "he hit me, just checking in" -- and is not judging Irving for asking out.
"I always respect his decision, whatever that may be," Claxton said. "That's my brother. And we just gotta roll with who's here."
As for whether or not Irving might change his mind, Claxton said: "I have no idea. I mean, no idea. I just work here, at the end of the day. I just want to come out here and beat Washington and have fun in front of our fans."
O'Neale, who also texted with Irving on Friday, offered no more clarity on the subject: "We didn't get that far. It was just a text and then a reply and then that was it."
Around this time last season, a disgruntled James Harden wanted out and Brooklyn traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. In the offseason, Durant asked out and the Nets did not trade him. Brooklyn parted ways with coach Steve Nash seven games into this season, and three days later suspended Irving during an antisemitism scandal. After all of that, on Jan. 9, the Nets had won 18 of 20 games and owned the NBA's second-best record. Durant has not played since then because his injury, but they are still 32-20 and fourth in the East.
"I'm hoping we've built up enough mental resolve," Vaughn said. "That's kind of been the task going along this thing."
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Ever the optimist, Vaughn said he hopes that Irving's trade request "lifts the group up and that they can pull together." He spoke to every member of the team individually on Friday, and he said he wants all of them to "play with a free mind" and focus on what's in front of them.
"I said to them, 'We're not going to make this weird. We're here to play. We're here to do a job. Show up and do your job,'" Vaughn said. "I said, 'You've done this. First step of this thing is we're here, we're showing up.'"
Asked if he feels Irving is letting the team down, Vaughn said he is "not going to speculate on what they think." Asked again what he personally thinks, Vaughn said: "I think you have a responsibility as a basketball player, like I do as a coach. I show up, I do my job every single day. That's what I signed up for, and that's my expectations for 1 through 17."