Nets’ grand plans for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving blow up, expose points NBA house owners need to repair

The previous three seasons have been a debacle for the Brooklyn Nets.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant joined the Nets in 2019 — and James Harden in 2021 — with the concept they’d contend for championships.

That hasn’t occurred.

The Nets have two first-round losses and a second-round exit to indicate for it.

Harden is now not with the workforce. Durant has requested a commerce. And it is unlikely Irving performs one other sport for the Netswho’re left to choose up the items left from an implosion that units the group again 5 seasons and exposes issues to the system NBA house owners might attempt to repair within the subsequent collective bargaining settlement.

Irving and Durant performed simply 57 video games collectively over three seasons, with Durant lacking 2019-20 whereas recovering from a ruptured Achilles sustained within the 2019 Finals when he was with Golden State.

Irving performed in simply 46% of Brooklyn’s video games in three seasons resulting from a wide range of causes, together with private ones, accidents and his refusal to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, which made him ineligible to play in a majority of house video games due to New York Metropolis’s mandate.

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Harden, who was acquired in January of 2021, had grown uninterested in the Nets after one 12 months. He needed out with one-plus seasons left on his contract and obtained his want his, going to Philadelphia for an additional participant, Ben Simmons, who needed out of his state of affairs with the Sixers with 4 seasons left on his contract.

Final offseason, Durant signed a four-year, $194.2 million extension with Brooklyn with the primary 12 months of that extension beginning in 2022-23. So earlier than Durant even performed one sport into that extension, he needs out.

It is simple to see why this bothers NBA house owners.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played in just 57 games together for the Nets.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving performed in simply 57 video games collectively for the Nets.

Sure, groups have the power to commerce most gamers at any time, and sure, participant empowerment has been round for a while, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver famous at All-Star Weekend in February.

“I feel you are coping with conditions the place you have got gamers with actually a novel ability on the planet, and that is at all times going to offer them leverage, and you’ve got groups with leverage,” Silver mentioned. “There could also be instruments that we are able to consider to create stronger incentives for gamers to adjust to these agreements. However I do not assume there’s form of some silver bullet right here that we will go in in collective bargaining and say now we ‘ve mounted this downside. These are human beings.”

Silver walks a high-quality line right here. He’s a gamers ‘commissioner and his relationship his with gamers has helped improved the sport. He listens to their enter. However he additionally works for the house owners, a aggressive group of people attempting to win a championship.

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“Because the commissioner of this league, we wish our gamers to be completely happy,” he mentioned. “We wish them to search out themselves in conditions the place they assume they are often most efficient. On the similar time we need to run an orderly league, and so like quite a lot of issues in life, we’ve to search out the suitable steadiness there.”

It has been advised that house owners might need to recoup cash the sooner a participant is into his contract and a commerce request is honored. However who is aware of if house owners may enact a punitive sufficient deterrent for gamers who’re signing $200 million offers.

Nets proprietor Joe Tsai understands the ever-changing nature of the league and the place gamers need to play. However when Durant signed that extension, there was an inexpensive expectation that he’d play at the least one season of the deal, even in an enhanced period of participant empowerment.

(The Nets usually are not innocent both. They enabled Irving and chased a fast path to success, and there are penalties for that).

There may be lasting collateral injury, too. Brooklyn ran off a stable coach in Kenny Atkinson, who had made progress in Brooklyn’s rebuild earlier than Irving and Durant determined they needed a brand new coach. Steve Nash, Atkinson’s substitute, has had his first foray into teaching sabotaged in two seasons.

The Nets commerce first-round draft picks to create a Large 3 of Durant, Irving and Harden, and as of in the present day, they do not have a first-round choose in 2024 and 2026, they usually have given up essentially the most favorable of their 2023, 2025 and 2027 draft alternatives in choose swaps.

After all, they’ll get first-round picks again in offers for Durant and Irving if that is the way it performs out.

Nevertheless it places the Nets again to the place they have been circa 2017 after they had younger gamers and have been attempting to construct by way of the draft, savvy free-agent signings and veterans who supplied path.

Brooklyn normal supervisor Sean Marks took the job in 2016, and 6½ years later, he’s beginning throughout.

The Nets cannot mess it up once more.

Observe Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Nets’ plans for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving blow up

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