The Brooklyn Nets entered the season with huge expectations. Having two star talents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving put those kinds of expectations on a team. Early in the season, Durant has played like an All-Star. Irving has played well also when he is on the floor. However, Irving’s recent absence from the team has sparked some concerns.
The Nets knew this is what could come with signing Irving. He is a certified star on the court but a wild card off of it. Brooklyn made a blockbuster trade Wednesday, acquiring James Harden from the Houston Rockets. This move shifted the NBA landscape, giving the Nets the latest big three. It also means that Kyrie Irving now becomes expendable to the Nets.
Kyrie Irving is not with the Brooklyn Nets
As it stands right now, Kyrie Irving is not with the Nets. Nobody knows where he is, as he hasn’t played for the team in about a week. He is out for personal reasons, but those reasons haven’t been specified. He is not expected to return to the court this week and could be even out for more time.
The NBA is reviewing a video of Irving at a birthday party dancing with his sister. He and the others at the party were not wearing a mask. If the NBA finds that Irving violated NBA COVID-19 protocols, he could face a mandatory quarantine period. He would need to test negative multiple times during that quarantine to be cleared to play. It is a real possibility that Irving couldn’t play again in late January
The recent string of events involving Kyrie Irving has to be concerning to the Nets. They have said that Irving will address his absence when he returns, but they don’t know when that is. The distraction he is becoming to the organization isn’t good, mainly because he is such an exceptional talent. In a season where there are championship expectations, Irving seems to have higher priorities on his mind.
With Irving not with the team, they are losing 27.1 points per game on the floor, per ESPN. Those points don’t get replaced easily. It makes sense why Brooklyn went after Harden. They get another elite scorer, a friend of Kevin Durant, and a scoring insurance policy.
James Harden acquisition is long-term thinking for the Nets
When James Harden first put in his trade request, Brooklyn was the first team on his list. It was because of his relationship with Kevin Durant. Durant and Harden played together on the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading them to the NBA Finals in 2012. Durant is the focal point for the Nets. They want to keep him happy and give him reasons to re-sign when he becomes a free agent.
Even though the Harden acquisition provides a short-term return, this mega-trade is the Nets thinking long-term. They are thinking forward to when Durant becomes a free agent, which could come in 2022 because he has a player option. Brooklyn knows that having Harden on their roster will make Durant more likely to re-sign with the team.
KD’s relationship with Harden is a significant factor in his future with the Nets. If they play well together the next couple of seasons, Harden will want to stay in Brooklyn with Durant. That will entice Durant to stay with them also. Even though Kyrie and KD came to the Nets together, the tandem of The Beard and Durantula is what will become the focal point for Brooklyn’s future.
Kyrie Irving just became expendable
If the Nets have Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving all available and ready to play at their best, they are one of the most lethal offenses ever to grace the basketball court. However, Irving will be the question mark. When will he return to the Nets? Is it going to be sometime this season?
The Nets don’t seem pleased with his behavior, and now that they have another superstar in Harden, Irving could be seen as expendable. Although he is a supremely talented player, he’s unpredictable off the court. His recent actions prove that and the Nets don’t have to tolerate his behavior. If Brooklyn grows tired of his antics, they could void his contract. It would be a drastic decision, but Irving isn’t much of a necessity on the team now that they have Harden. The Nets have the power to end the Kyrie drama, and they have the ultimate insurance policy in Harden.
It isn’t the Nets’ initial that thought Irving is an expendable assest. They would like to see how the trifecta of Irving, Harden, and Durant work out before any judgments are made. However, if Irving doesn’t take the court in the near future, his talent won’t be worth the headache. Brooklyn doesn’t want to see their star point guard as expendable, but he isn’t making it easy for them.
James Harden forced his way out of Houston to join KD in Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving will be a part of that equation when (or if) he returns to the court. The clock is ticking for Irving, though, as he will need to show up for the Nets soon. If he doesn’t, who knows what could happen.