The Brooklyn Nets are making a controversial move by bringing back Kyrie Irving as a part-time player for games outside of New York and Toronto. Irving is unvaccinated against COVID-19, but the Nets are still bringing him back since many players — including Kevin Durant and James Harden — have been placed in health and safety protocols, and injuries have also decimated the roster.
Irving will be eligible to play in select road games. Many pundits, including Stephen A. Smith, believe the Nets are making the wrong decision to let Uncle Drew be a part-time player. However, Durant “felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Kevin Durant comments on Kyrie Irving coming back
Durant spoke about Irving’s return on the latest episode of his podcast. As expected, the two-time Finals MVP is excited about his point guard’s return even though many people outside the Nets organization think Brooklyn is making a dangerous mistake health-wise.
“With us getting ravaged by COVID and us being down so many bodies, it felt like the perfect time to add a fresh body back into the equation,” Durant said. “Somebody that can bring so much to the floor. We just needed it. Adding Kyrie to the equation just makes us so much better as a team. He was down. We were down. It was pretty simple, to be honest.”
At the start of the season, the Nets made a collaborative decision not to have Irving be a part-time player. However, they changed their mind “after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols,” according to general manager Sean Marks.
New York City’s mandate allows Irving to practice at home, but the one-time champion will be in and out of the lineup, making it difficult for the Nets to establish cohesion. However, Durant isn’t worried about that.
Kevin Durant on re-incorporating a part-time Kyrie Irving
Durant and Irving are close friends and elite basketball talents. With that said, the former isn’t worried about re-incorporating a part-time Irving.
“You hear about the quote-on-quote chemistry and the extra mental stuff that you may go through if this would happen, but at the end of the day, it’s just hoops,” Durant said. “And we respect each other as men, so we can work through anything.”
The Nets are 16-11 when Durant and Irving play. They currently have the best record in the Eastern Conference and will become even more lethal on offense once Irving is on the court with Durant and Harden.
However, since Irving can’t play in home games, Brooklyn may not win the championship.
Nets may fall short of championship goals
Until he gets the COVID-19 vaccine, Irving can’t play in home games with Durant and Harden. Despite how incredible Durant and Harden are, the Nets aren’t winning the championship with Irving only playing in road playoff games.
Brooklyn compromises everything team sports are about by letting Irving be a part-time player. While Durant and his teammates will be fighting during home playoff games, Irving will be sitting at his house watching the game on TV. Sure, the electric scoring guard will be in the foxhole with his teammates on the road, but not being available at home will ultimately cost the Nets a championship.
If Durant and Co. somehow win the title with Irving only playing in road games, that would be a phenomenal feat. However, the odds of that happening are low since you can’t build chemistry as a unit with a player being in and out of the lineup, no matter how confident Durant sounds.