Everything is all good now for the Brooklyn Nets (25-12) who have won 12 straight and have a good chance at extending that streak against the struggling Chicago Bulls next. But it has not always been that way this season and some believe it will not stay that way.
One coaching change and 23 wins later and their outlook is much different.
But, if all of the good vibes have only come about in the wake of such tremendous success, it is fair to wonder how long it would last should they encounter another rough patch as most teams do. And, with that, comes the overarching question of what Durant would do if things head back down that path.
KD Could Repeat Last Summer
“If the Nets fall short of a championship – fall short of the Finals, fall short of maybe the Conference Finals – I don’t believe there is any desire by leadership in Brooklyn to want to bring back Kyrie Irving unless they really feel like they have to,” offered Howard Beck on the ‘Lowe Post Podcast‘ on January 3. “If he goes, why wouldn’t Kevin Durant want to explore things yet again?”
Durant came out and explained that the impetus behind his demand this summer – which evolved into a demand for general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash to be fired – was due to uncertainty around the organization’s direction.
The Nets had traded for James Harden just to trade him away just over one year later while Irving would go from his vaccine controversy of last season to one of antisemitism.
A lot has changed since then including Irving’s return to prominence amid the Nets’ surge.
“They have been amazing,” Beck said after explaining his bold prediction was submitted in mid-December amid questions about the Nets’ staying power. “Kyrie has been fantastic. Kevin Durant has been absolutely unbelievable…Their role players have been great. We saw them the same way before the season.”
Brooklyn was fourth in preseason title odds, per Sports Odd History. This was after their offseason turmoil had outspoken analyst Stephen A. Smith of ESPN calling them an “unmitigated disaster” while predicting the Los Angeles Lakers would be in Irving’s future.
Beck noted that a lot of those variables continue to make the Nets “hard to trust”.
“Were they good enough on paper, talented enough to win a championship,” Beck asked before answering, “Yeah, absolutely. Didn’t think it was possible because of all the volatility. Because of the possible slash likelihood that Kyrie and/or Kevin Durant, at some point, were going to miss long stretches of games. That could still happen. It tends to happen with both of them.”
Nets Stars Have Been Healthy So Far
Durant has missed just one game so far this season while ranking 13th in the NBA in minutes per game. Only two players – Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks are averaging more minutes while having more appearances.
Doncic and Tatum are 23 and 24 years old, respectively, while Durant just turned 34 and has an extensive injury history now in his 15th NBA season.
Irving has missed just two games outside of his eight-game suspension.
One of those was the same game Durant missed with both players sitting out by head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s decision for rest purposes but he also has a lengthy history of absences, to Beck’s final point which also included the still-unknown cap on Ben Simmons’ impact.
“It’s hard to trust it,” Beck said. “I don’t know that anything’s truly been solved other than that they’re playing amazing, everybody’s healthy, and this might continue.”