The Brooklyn Nets’ 2021-22 season was as up-and-down as it gets. The offseason hasn’t been much more stable, with stars Kevin Durant requesting a trade and Kyrie Irving potentially on the trade block, too.
Now, a key role player on last season’s team said that focus on Brooklyn’s superstars, rather than on the team as a whole, ultimately led to the Nets’ demise.
“I played with some stars, like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and I have to admit that it was quite difficult because the focus was not the team, but more the individual performances of the individual players,” guard Goran Dragić told Slovenian newspaper Vecer, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
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Dragic: No Regrets
Despite all the turmoil the Nets dealt with, Dragić had no regrets about the decision he made, he said.
“It was really tough last year, but that’s part of the sport,” Dragić told European website Sportal, according to Lewis’ July 13 story in the Post. “I’m happy that I came to the club environment that I wanted, in which I know that I will play, where I can get to consistency again, and that’s what I’m most happy about.
“Last season, I didn’t play for four months, then I came to Brooklyn and immediately played 30 minutes, which was difficult. The season was really not successful, but the most important thing is that it is behind us, it is in the past and now we can only look forward.”
Dragić, 36, started the season with the Toronto Raptors, playing in four straight games before getting bench. He appeared in only one more game, on November 13, for the Raptors before leaving the team for “personal reasons,” according to Sports Illustrated. Toronto traded him to the San Antonio Spurs, who subsequently waived him.
Dragić was one of the most coveted free agents available when the Nets signed him on February 22. The Chicago Bulls had also vied for his services, he said.
“I already talked to Chicago last year, but then things, unfortunately, took a different direction. Well, not, unfortunately, it just happened as it did and I chose Brooklyn,” Dragić said, according to the Post story.
He made his Brooklyn debut on February 26 and went on to average just over 25 minutes a game, scoring 7.3 points and making 4.8 assists a game. Dragić had a season-high 21 points on March 16 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Nets in Limbo
Irving ended up playing in only 29 games last year. And Durant missed 27 games due to injury. The Nets never really got a chance to see how good their roster could be on the floor because of all the off-the-court drama surrounding the team.
Now Brooklyn is in limbo, as both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could be on their way out of town before the franchise opens training camp this fall. Other key players, including Ben Simmons, Joe Harris and Seth Curry, are expected to return with clean bills of health.
One player who will not be back is Dragić, who parted ways with the Nets to become a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Bulls on July 3.