The Brooklyn Nets have had quite a dramatic offseason so far, with initial trade rumors suggesting that both their superstars were looking for a new team.
Kyrie Irving was the first among the two to announce his desire to stay with the Nets, while Kevin Durant seemed adamant about leaving Brooklyn. He even went to the extent of asking owner Joe Tsai to pick between him or GM Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash - to force his way out.
However, the dust seems to have settled after the parties involved had a meeting and found common ground. Kevin Durant will play for the Nets in the 2022-23 season, forming a presumed ‘Big Three’ with Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.
Are the Nets a contender?
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons was joined by NFL Analyst Warren Sharp on the latest episode of “The Bill Simmons” podcast, and the pair discussed the top teams in the East. While the Brooklyn Nets are still considered championship-worthy, the pair raised some concerns:
“When you’re talking about top threes, and you just go through - and the Brooklyn top three is KD - he’s 34, who is still one of the best five day person in the league. And then you have Kyrie, who just has not proven he’s a reliable regular season guy or the same kind of elite elite player, performer, and then Simmons doesn’t wanna play basketball.”
Is Kyrie Irving still a superstar?
Kyrie Irving played just 29 regular season games last season, due to his stand on the COVID-19 vaccine. In that span he was effective, averaging 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, but was far from how good he was between 2016 and 2017.
“People seem to think he's a superstar. Look, he made one of the biggest shots in the history of the finals - 2016 - in a game that was a rock-fight. Nobody was making anything, and then he makes this three, he's great. In 2017 that Cavs team was incredible offensively, but that was five years ago," added Bill Simmons.
Kyrie Irving is often compared to the late Kobe Bryant, because of the relationship they shared during the Team USA days. Furthermore, Irving was among the lucky lot of players who got a chance to be mentored by Bryant. But the level at which the two of them love the game of basketball is drastically different, given how Irving did not mind sitting out an entire season. Warren Sharp stepped in to ward off any comparisons between Irving and Bryant:
“Kyrie's the complete opposite, and he's supposed to be the torch bearer for him [Kobe]? He does everything he can to avoid playing basketball,” Sharp said.
Kyrie Irving managed to put up the numbers on the stat sheet but was far from playing winning basketball last season. In fact, he’s had five years of ‘figuring it out,’ since he left the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is precisely why his superstar status is being questioned. It's good to know that the 30-year-old is ready to remove any doubt about it.