It came in stark contrast to the feeling the team and its fans had not even two years ago when many picked it to reach the NBA Finals, if not win the championship.
But on Thursday, shockwaves reverberated around the league when it became known that Durant had requested a trade and that Irving was focused on forcing his way out of Brooklyn and into the arms of the Los Angeles Lakers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2022
Instead of becoming an empire, the Nets now look more like Humpy Dumpty falling off the wall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men likely won’t be able to fix this mess.
The Irving-Durant Experiment Has Been A Failure
When Irving and Durant signed with the Nets in the summer of 2019, many expected the team to inevitably win the world title and possibly even become a mini-dynasty.
It looked like an appropriate pairing, as Durant seems equally comfortable playing off the ball as he is playing with the ball in his hands, and Irving is a multi-talented player who can seemingly fit with anyone.
The former 2014 league MVP missed the 2020 season while rehabbing from a torn Achilles, but when he returned for the following season, the Nets became one of the leading favorites to win it all.
Instead, both stars missed many games due to injury, and with Irving getting hurt again during the playoffs, Brooklyn fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, albeit by a very slim margin.
REPORT: Kyrie Irving is focused on forcing his way to the Los Angeles Lakers. 🍿 pic.twitter.com/ZKYLB0MDpf
— NBALakersReport (@NBALakersReport) June 30, 2022
The team had traded for James Harden at midseason, which further complicated its efforts to build chemistry, and with Harden’s future with the team in question, it again reshuffled the deck a few months ago, swapping him for Ben Simmons.
Simmons has played nary a minute for the Nets thus far, but he was the least of their problems this season.
Irving was forced to miss the first several months of the season after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and Durant missed 27 games due to injury, once again preventing the team from gelling.
As a result, it got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
Now, the task in Brooklyn has gone from winning the world championship to a full-on liquidation.
The Nets Have To Grab What They Can And Start Over
No team ever gets full value when trading a star or superstar, but the Nets have to get whatever assets they can for Durant and Irving and commit to a rebuilding process.
If Simmons ever grows the courage to be a full-time basketball player again, he would give Brooklyn a star to build around, even if he is vastly flawed.
Besides that, it needs as many future draft picks and young prospects it can get moving forward.
Durant is rumored to want to go to either the Miami Heat or the Phoenix Suns – will either team be willing to give the Nets enough to land him?