Last season gave NBA fans a glimpse of how overpowered the Nets could be with their Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. It also showed how important it will be for Brooklyn to remain healthy if it wants to reach the tremendous height of their potential.
Brooklyn’s 2020-21 campaign was undone by key injuries to key players at key moments. Both Harden and Irving dealt with ailments during their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Milwaukee Bucks; Harden missed a few games before playing through a hamstring strain, and Irving missed the last three games of the series because of an ankle injury.
As the Nets fell to the Bucks in seven games in that series, Irving’s absence was further proof of his importance to Brooklyn.
Just ask Durant.
“Isiah Thomas says the Nets need Kyrie to win it all,” ESPN recently posted on Instagram. Durant replied with one word – “Fact,” K.D. wrote – that took on even greater significance amid a week of rumors swirling around Irving.
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Stephen A. Smith Starts up Irving Rumor Mill
Leave it to Stephen A. Smith to get Nets Twitter in an uproar.
The ESPN personality said earlier this week on “First Take” that “Kyrie could have ended up in Philly. (General manager) Sean Marks couldn’t do that because K.D. wasn’t having it. K.D. wasn’t having it. K.D. is like, ‘Kyrie ain’t going no damn place.’”
Smith then elaborated more on the situation.
“If it were not for Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in making that deal,” Smith said, “because let’s call it what it is — if Ben Simmons was in Brooklyn with KD and James Harden, it’s a wrap. It’s a wrap. They’re winning the chip.”
Not long after he shared all of those pot-stirring sentiments, Smith walked everything back a bit.
“Here we go with the lies again,” Smith tweeted on Thursday. “I never said any trade offers were made regarding Kyrie & @BrooklynNets . What I said is, they would do a deal to swap Kyrie for Ben Simmons in a heartbeat, but @KDTrey5 ain’t having it. He loves his brother Kyrie. He won’t have that!”
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Nets Still Want to Extend Kyrie
Meanwhile, to this point, there have been no concrete reports about trade attempts or even trade talks that have centered around Irving this offseason. The only accredited news this offseason has come from Marks himself, who earlier this week reiterated that the Nets have been focused on extending Irving (and Harden).
“We’ve had very positive conversations with both those guys,” Marks said during a press conference on Tuesday, per netswire.com. “We’re looking forward to sitting with them over the course of next week … two weeks … and furthering those discussions again.”
Last season, the 29-year-old Irving averaged 26.9 points on better than 50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and 90 percent shooting from the free throw line, becoming just the ninth player in NBA history to shoot with such efficiency in a season.