In a column Sunday, Brian Lewis writes about how the Nets fan base —and presumably team insiders— are split on a critical question about the franchise’s future...
DLo vs. Kyrie.
As Lewis writes, “Watch the NBA long enough and you figure nothing is going to shock you. But the Nets never fail to surprise.”
The debate should be shocking. Two years ago, the Nets had the worst record in the NBA. 20-62, and virtually no draft picks. Now, shockingly, they are in position to sign not one, but two of the game’s top 10 players. So what’s the problem?
Irving is the kind of unguardable player needed to win a championship. He wasn’t just a passenger on the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA title team but one of the 10 best players on the planet. The Nets are also in the running for Kevin Durant, who would be right at the top of that list when he returns.
But signing Irving could come at the cost of D’Angelo Russell. And bringing in the Irving-Durant tandem surely means losing Russell, a restricted free agent, and at 23, not even in his prime.
Nets fans are in a state of civil war, split over an enviable call with no wrong answer.
Part of the debate is centered on the organic growth Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have championed vs. a perceived attempt to “skip steps” and abandon the avatar of that growth —and the man who saved last season. The debate is open and public in the comments section here and on social media.
There’s also Irving’s reputation as a locker room issue. As Danny Ainge told reporters this weekend, “Milwaukee was really good, and they were a very together team. That’s the team that we have been the last five or six years. Like, we’ve been one of those teams, and this year we were not — and we will be next year.”
And it’s not just an internal debate. People around the league wonder what switching out DLo for Kyrie would do to the Nets as a unit.
“I’d want to see what that’s going to do in the locker room,” the agent for a prominent free agent told The Post. “They have good chemistry. How does that change it?”
Pairing Irving with another superstar —perhaps Kevin Durant— might ease things, as Kevin Boyle, who coached both players in high school, noted.
“You’ve got to get Durant if you can, I understand that. You might have an argument for Kyrie, because he’s Kyrie. But it’s still a hard one,” Boyle told The Post. “If you [only] get one for the other, it’s a tough call. Not that Kyrie’s not the best, but the age factor becomes a business decision.
“If KD ever teamed up with him, it’s a dangerous package. It’s scary.”
Boyle has said based on his knowledge of Irving and Russell, he thinks —”1000 percent”- that the two could play together ... and at least as of a month ago, some inside the organization think that could work. Of course, the vagaries of the CBA could determine a lot of what Marks will be able to do. He has a lot of flexibility.
Now, writes Lewis, Marks will have to make a “brave” decision, as he did dumping Jeremy Lin —Joe Tsai’s favorite player— last July for cap space. So we have two weeks of anxiety and further debate before we will know the outcome. Expect surprises.
- Nets fans completely split on whether team should sign Kyrie Irving - Brian Lewis - New York Post