When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined the Brooklyn Nets in free agency in 2019, most thought it would equal a changing of the guard in the NBA. Durant had departed from the Golden State Warriors, who he had led to three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, and at that point, Kyrie was still considered a top-5 point guard in the NBA.
With two offensive juggernauts, both with championship experience, many believed that the All-Star duo could bring the Nets their first NBA title in franchise history. But that has not happened, not even close. In fact, Durant and Kyrie have only won one playoff series during their tenure as teammates. Hall of Famer Charles Barkley calls the KD, Kyrie Nets era a waste of time.
“This team’s been together for four years. When they went there four years ago, we were like, ‘They’re going to win a couple of championships.’ They ain’t even close,” Barkley said on Inside the NBA on November 15.
“When you have a good team, you have to take advantage of it. This is a wasted four years for these guys.”
The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!
Barkley Sends Message to ‘Frozen’ Ben Simmons
One reason people believed the Nets could bring multiple championships to Brooklyn was the 2021 blockbuster trade that landed them James Harden. The KD, Kyrie duo was already explosive, and adding Harden, another former MVP, made them near unstoppable. However, that honeymoon phase ended less than a year later when the Nets traded Harden to the Sixers for Ben Simmons.
Even after the Harden, Simmons trade, the Nets were optimistic about the future with a younger Simmons who added a different dynamic as a former Defensive Player of the Year Finalist. But injuries have prevented the star forward from staying on the floor consistently.
Even when he does play, Simmons is subpar. He has only scored in double digits once this season. Barkley believes his struggles are mental and that sports psychology will work.
“I think personally, I think he [Ben Simmons] needs a sports psychologist. I’m not talking about mental; I’m talking like, he’s frozen on the court. He’s not even looking at the basket,” Barkley added.
“I’ve never been on a team where guys have to scream at a guy to shoot the basketball ever. I’ve seen Kyrie yell at him, and I’ve seen the coach yell at him. He’s mentally blocked right now.”
Joe Harris Sounds off on Nets Identity Issues
The Nets came into this season with a lot of moving parts after a tumultuous offseason. They parted ways with key players such as Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, and Blake Griffin, so there were a lot of new faces on the roster coming into the season.
Even some old faces, such as Joe Harris, who had not played since last November due to injury, had to reacclimate himself. But Harris is confident the Nets will find their identity over time.
“It’s just kind of a thing amongst us right now. You gotta, you know, sometimes fabricate your own energy. Because we’ve gone through just some rough points in our season so far, even though it’s been really early,” Harris said via Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
“Sometimes you fake it until you make it, but you gotta have energy when you play and throughout the course of the season, otherwise it makes it really tough. And, you know, we just kinda collectively talk about it as a group just making sure that everybody’s bringing energy and the right sort of energy, too. It’s easy to go the opposite direction and not enjoy it.”
With the season nearing the quarter mark, the Nets are running out of time to right the ship.