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Could Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leave the Brooklyn Nets?

Kyrie Irving y Kevin Durant en los playoffs de la NBA 201-22.

With one star handing in a wish list of potential trade destinations and the other stating that he´s evaluating his options, it now seems like the franchise is resigned to losing both.

A path the Nets couldn´t have forseen

If there is one take away from what has now become an unbelievable situation, it´s that a championship in any sport is not something one can buy, it´s the product of a careful balance between spenditure and the moulding of talent both young and experienced. Just about a year ago, the Brooklyn Nets had put together what was arguably the team in the NBA. A roster that was primed to not just win a title, but quite likely several over the next few years. James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant all on the same team, the stuff hoop dreams are made of. Yet a year later and that´s not even close to case, in fact it´s more than the opposite, it´s worse.

From the moment Harden forced his way out, there were warning signs. Then there was Irving’s stand off against the city of New York itself with the star point guard refusing the covid-19 vaccine resulting in him missing the majority of the Nets initial games and most of their home games as a result of NYC´s vaccine mandate. Last but not least there was the unfortunate mid season injury of Kevin Durant which saw him play like a shadow of himself during what turned out to be a playoff sweep courtesy of the Boston Celtics.

What´s the situation with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant right now?

At this point it borders on comical to think that with the kind of roster that the Nets have, they weren´t even able to make it to the Conference Finals. That being said let´s take a look at the players themselves. As things stand, Irving´s situation is about to - thankfully - have some clarity in that he has until Wednesday this week to decide on his player option. It is of course understood that he would like a long term deal that would see him remain in Brooklyn, however, one can imagine that given his unpredictable track record the Nets have been hesitant to oblige. There have also been suggestions that the star point guard might opt for the taxpayer mid-level exception, which would assuredly seem him join the Lakers and his old teammate LeBRon James, but there is nothing set in stone. Where Durant is concerned, the former MVP has been quiet about his intentions but has made it clear that he´s currently weighing up his options. It would be naive to think that should Irving - his long time friend - go, Durant wouldn´t seek to do the same.

Where do the Nets stand?

According to reports, the Nets are willing to concede defeat should both of their stars choose to go through the door. They “are prepared to lose both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They would rather lose them both than go through what they went through last season.” With that said, there are a few factors worth noting. Firstly a repeat of last season would be next to impossible at least where Irving´s availability is concerned. With New York´s mandate now lifted there will be nothing stopping him from participating in home games, which is something that definitely hurt the team last season. On the other hand, Kyrie has never been the most predictable player when it comes to his temperament, so there is no telling what he could do if he´s not happy in his environment.

This brings us to Kevin Durant, who it must be said is in a scenario that is not as volatile as that of his teammate´s. Having signed a four-year extension during the last offseason, it would safe to imagination that the likelihood of the big man simply asking to leave and being allowed to do so is not high. Indeed, what is more likely is that the Nets opt to hold on to Durant regardless of what Irving does. There is, however, a catch. Durant´s aforementioned friendship with Irving could well be an issue should the latter decide to leave. He recently stated he doesn´t want to be involved in any of the talks involving Irving, but there is definitely context to be read between the lines.

How do the Nets move forward?

Whatever happens, it´s becoming increasingly clear that the Nets are facing some form of restructuring in the near future. It should also be said that they will have to do so without their own first-round picks. They can attribute that to the Harden trade with Houston which now sees the Rockets holding their selections all the way through to 2027. If that sounds familiar, well, it should. Though it may be considered a low blow, it would be remiss of us not to point out the fact that this is the same Nets team that lost both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to the Celtics in a similar manner. The irony of that deal and the result of this year´s post season is not lost. Where does Brooklyn go from here? Though there isn´t a clear answer to that question at this point, the signs aren´t looking good.


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