Nets’ Grand Plans for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Explode, Exposing Problems NBA Owners Want to Solve

The past 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 idea that they would compete for championships.

That didn’t happen.

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

Harden is no longer with the team. Durant requested an exchange† And his unlikely Irving will play another game for the Netsleft behind to pick up the pieces left from an implosion that will set the organization back five seasons and expose problems to the system NBA owners may try to fix in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Irving and Durant only played 57 games together over three seasons, with Durant missing 2019-20 while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon sustained in the 2019 finals while with Golden State.

Irving played in only 46% of Brooklyn’s games in three seasons due to a variety of reasons, including personal reasons, injuries and his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which made him ineligible to play in most home games due to New York City mandate.

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Harden, which was acquired in January 2021, got tired of the Nets after a year. Wanting to get out with one season left on his contract, he got his wish by moving to Philadelphia for another player, Ben Simmons, who wanted to get out of his position with the Sixers with four seasons left on his contract.

Last season, Durant signed a $194.2 million four-year extension with Brooklyn, with the first year of that extension starting in 2022-23. So before Durant even played one game in that extension, he wants out.

It’s easy to see why this bothers NBA owners.

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

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

Yes, teams have the option to trade the most players at any time, and yes, player empowerment has been around for a while, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver pointed out at All-Star Weekend in February.

“I think you’re dealing with situations where you’ve got players with literally a unique ability on the planet, and that’s always going to give them leverage, and you’ve got teams that have leverage,” said Silver. “There may be tools we can come up with to give players more incentives to stick to those agreements. But I don’t think there’s some sort of silver bullet here that we’re going to collectively negotiate and say we’ve now solved this problem.” . These are people.”

Silver walks a fine line here. He is a players commissioner and his relationship with players has improved the game. He listens to their input. But he also works for the Owners, a competitive group of individuals trying to win a championship.

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“As the commissioner of this league, we want our players to be happy,” he said. “We want them to be in situations where they think they can be most productive. At the same time, we want to run an orderly competition, and so like many things in life, we have to find the right balance there.”

It has been suggested that owners will want a refund the sooner a player has their contract and a trade request is honored. But who knows if owners can impose a deterrent enough deterrent to players signing $200 million deals.

Nets owner Joe Tsai understands the ever-changing nature of the league and where players want to play. But when Durant signed that extension, there was a reasonable expectation that he would play at least one season of the deal, even in an improved era of player empowerment.

(The Nets aren’t flawless either. They empowered Irving and followed a fast path to success, and there are consequences).

There is also permanent collateral damage. Brooklyn walked away from a solid coach in Kenny Atkinson, who had made progress in rebuilding Brooklyn before Irving and Durant decided they wanted a new coach. Steve Nash, Atkinson’s replacement, has sabotaged his first coaching attempt in two seasons.

The Nets are trading first round draft picks to create a Big 3 of Durant, Irving and Harden, and as of today they will not have a first round pick in 2024 and 2026, and they have the most favorable of their 2023, 2025 and 2027 draft picks in pick swaps.

Sure, they’ll get first round picks back in deals for Durant and Irving if that’s how it works out.

But it brings the Nets back to where they were around 2017 when they had young players and tried to build up through the draft, smart transfers of free agents and veterans that gave direction.

Brooklyn General Manager Sean Marks took the job in 2016 and is starting all over again 6½ years later.

The Nets can’t screw it up again.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nets’ plans for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving explode

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