This past season, the Brooklyn Nets narrowly scratched and clawed their way to a winning record, 42-40. It was the first time the organization had tallied more wins than losses by season’s end since 2013-2014. Will the team’s newly acquired, mega-talented former Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving help to increase its win total from a year ago?
The Boston Celtics were a worse team come playoff time in 2019 than in 2018.
The biggest reason for this was Kyrie Irving was healthy down the stretch run and for the playoffs this past season, but hurt the previous year.
Boston Celtics fans know this to be the God’s honest truth.
And they shouldn’t let a soul insult their intelligence, by trying to tell them anything different.
However, this offseason, the most notable members of the Celtics organization not donning game jerseys had the audacity, the brazenness, the unmitigated gall (as Steven A. Smith would say), to do exactly this.
Speaking with Celtics Blog, Celtics’ leading executive Danny Ainge spit out the following nonsense: “Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not anymore than anybody else.”
Head coach Brad Stevens got in on the shameless action, too, telling The Crossover, “last year was no fault of Kyrie.”
Do Ainge and Stevens take Celtics fans for complete morons?
Of course the Cs’ failures were mostly Irving’s fault! His flagrant narcissism and selfish play destroyed the team chemistry and the team-first approach that brought the Boston Celtics within minutes of the NBA Finals.
The only question that remains is just how badly Irving will “F” things up for his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.
Have some pity, Celtics fans. Because the poor freakin’ Nets can’t catch a break.
During the 2014 offseason, in arguably the most one-sided trade in all of NBA history, Brooklyn mortgaged its foreseeable future for long-in-the-tooth, yet beloved Celtics’ veterans, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
The Nets forfeited what was an at the time unprecedented three future first-round picks and the rights to swap first rounders another year.
But the most Brooklyn would end up having to show for all it gave up was an exceedingly underwhelming, second round playoff exit in 2013-2014.
Conversely, the Boston Celtics used the Nets’ picks to ultimately acquire two stars in the making in forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
If the Nets had only had the foresight to hold on to some of those picks of theirs, one or both of these blossoming young talents could right now be calling the Barclays Center home, instead of the TD Garden.
This debacle of a trade should go on to haunt the Nets’ organization for decades, if not for NBA eternity.
But this past season, the Nets began to show some unexpected signs of life, beginning what was bound to be a lengthy recovery.
Led by their own young talent, players such as first-time All-star D’Angelo Russel, combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie, and rim-protector and rebounder Jarret Allen, Brooklyn astonishingly posted a winning record and squeaked into the playoffs.
Perhaps most surprising of all, in next year’s NBA draft, the Nets will have the opportunity to select a player in the first round… using their very own pick. Can you believe it?
Therefore, entering this offseason, there was real cause for optimism down in Brooklyn. Things were finally looking up for the woe-begotten franchise.
That was right up until the team decided to sell its soul to none other than the basketball equivalent of the devil — the same player who brought the Celtics from heaven one season, to hell the very next.
To make room to sign Kyrie Irving, the Nets traded away a potential franchise player in Russell in a sign and trade with the Golden State Warriors. The deal also brought to Brooklyn injured super-star, Kevin Durant.
But if the price for Durant’s willingness to agree to the sign and trade on his end was bringing in Irving to replace Russell, the Nets will soon find out it wasn’t a price worth paying.
Durant will almost assuredly miss the entire 2019-2020 NBA season as he recovers from rupturing his achilles tendon in last year’s NBA Finals.
And if that’s indeed the case, the next time Durant plays in an NBA game, he will have already turned thirty-two years old — well past what are typically a NBA player’s prime years.
What should be most concerning for the Nets pertaining to Durant, though, is not what his age will be when he returns, but the track record of NBA players attempting to come back from the type of injury he suffered.
Never has a player reclaimed his pre-injury form after suffering an achilles rupture.
Meanwhile, Irving’s mere presence as a highly ball dominant point guard will marginalize fellow ball-handler Dinwiddie, who was Brooklyn’s second leading scorer last year behind Russell, averaging a cool 17 points per game. Best of luck to Spencer in building off of what had been a breakout season with Irving now in tow.
Irving and Durant’s success in convincing Brooklyn’s front office to sign buddy big-man, Deandre Jordan, is also bound to force Jarrett Allen to the bench. Allen is coming off an impressive sophomore campaign, which saw the twenty-one year old center average 15 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks, when projecting his stats out to thirty-six minutes worth of game action.
With Jordan duplicating Allen’s skillset, opportunities will be sparse for Allen in 2019-2020.
In acquiring Irving, Durant, and Jordan, the Nets have undergone a complete makeup change from a season ago.
The young, come-out-of-nowhere, scrappy underdog of a team is no more. Overnight, the Nets have morphed into veteran, star-laden group.
Now, star led teams have had plenty of success in the NBA. However, the key is not just having stars, but the right stars at the right times in their careers.
With Durant’s future in doubt, can Irving be the lead-dog for these new-look Nets? Can he be the player to lead them to championship glory?
If Irving’s time in Cleveland and Boston serve as anything of an indication, the answer is an unequivocal, and emphatic, “NO!”
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ combined record when Irving was their best player was 97-215. With Irving, the most wins the Cavs ever finished with in a single season was 33, in 2013-2014. It wasn’t until Lebron came back the following season that Cleveland started winning again.
More fresh in our minds is the devastating effect Irving had on the Boston Celtics this past year. Despite all of his talent, the bottom line is Irving made a good team worse.
Nets fans’ only recourse now might be to pray Irving has undergone a drastic shift in both personality and in his approach to the game.
Because if Brooklyn gets the same version of Irving that was in Cleveland or in Boston, the organization and its fans will end up having another heavy dose of regret to languish over for years to come.
(Thanks for reading. I’d love to read about what you think in the comments’ section.)