No one said it would be easy ... or risk-free. Bringing in two superstars and a solid defensive center will bring challenges and the Post’s Brian Lewis and Steve Serby, in separate stories looked at the possibilities, Lewis primarily in terms of roster battles, Serby on what could go wrong.
For Lewis, the most interesting question will be up front.
Who starts at center, the fast developing 21-year-old Jarrett Allen, or wily veteran DeAndre Jordan who will sign a four-year, $40 million contract on Saturday and is 10 years older.
The frontcourt is up for debate.
Jarrett Allen started in the middle last season, and Jordan found himself on the Knicks’ bench in favor of developing rookie Mitchell Robinson. But with Brooklyn’s bar now raised, it has to be more about production than development. The battle between the rising star and the former All-Star should be fun.
In fact, Jordan has started every game he’s played in since 2011, nearly 700 straight games. The 6’11” Texas A&M product is also extremely durable. The last two years he’s played 69 games and would have played more last season if the Knicks hadn’t benched him for Robinson.
And until Kevin Durant suits up again, whenever that is, who’s the 4?
In Durant’s absence, the Nets have a hole at power forward. The Nets cycled through five different starters, with lanky Latvian Rodions Kurucs as the only holdover. But with the way the NBA is moving, Taurean Prince could fill stretch-four minutes as well; and they drafted Nicolas Claxton with the 31st overall pick.
Lewis also delves into locker room issues, noting two of the three glue guys from last season, DeMarre Carroll and Ed Davis gone and Jared Dudley taking meetings in Detroit and L.A. although there is a possibility the Nets could find a place for him.
[T]hey’ve brought in the enigmatic Irving, whose tenure in Boston went sideways as the bickering Celtics crashed out of the playoffs.
Irving, Durant and Jordan are longtime pals, with Durant also close with Prince and (assistant coach Adam) Harrington. The hope is that they can build on pre-existing chemistry and keep things running smoothly.
Serby also touches on the Irving chemistry issue, saying Kenny Atkinson will likely need to go into his point guard whisperer mode.
Kyrie is an upgrade over D’Angelo Russell because he is a proven big-game performer who embraces the biggest and brightest stages, but he has been an occasional moody problem child who pledged allegiance to the Celtics until he didn’t, and began criticizing young teammates.
Is Irving more grown up now than he was when LeBron returned to his Cavaliers and he demanded a trade because he was no longer The Man?
Like many others (without medical degrees or access to Durant’s medical records), Serby thinks it’s unlikely KD returns to his pre-Achilles rupture state.
There is always a glass half-full scenario, and this is it:
KD will be 32 by the time he steps on a court again, and who, other than Team Durant, expects him to be 100 percent of Durant?
Serby also wonders about Irving’s balky knees.
Kyrie has been plagued by bouts of knee soreness and pain dating to the 2015 playoffs. He missed the 2018 playoffs and required a pair of surgeries after the screws in his left knee had caused an infection. Can you say load maintenance?
Indeed, notes Serby, there will be a paradigm shift in how the Nets will be viewed. Expectations and demands will be greater.
Atkinson’s Nets are no longer The Little Engine That Could. This is no longer about establishing a culture. It is now about a championship.
No doubt there.
- The position battles that remain after Nets’ free-agency coup - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets now risk becoming the next New York disappointment - Steve Serby - New York Post