This time last year, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers were the preseason favorites to win their respective conferences en route to a clash in one of the most anticipated NBA Finals matchups of all time. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Neither team came close after having disappointing seasons. The Brooklyn Nets got swept by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics, and the Lakers only had 33 wins which weren’t even enough to qualify for the play-in tournament.
After having championship aspirations and falling short, the expectation is that major changes could be on the way for both teams. Multiple reports have confirmed that Kyrie Irving is on the trading block for the Nets and LeBron has an upcoming player option in August, which will determine his future with the Lakers. But NFL analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Woodson says that if the Nets and Lakers are to engage in a deal, he’s only giving up Irving for LeBron.
“If I’m the [Brooklyn Nets] I’m only accepting [LeBron James for [Kyrie Irving], [I’m just saying].” Woodson tweeted on July 3.
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Lebron and Durant Have History Together
LeBron coming to the Nets might be enough to convince Kevin Durant to stay in Brooklyn. For those who may be tardy to the party, Durant requested a trade from the franchise on June 30, after just three seasons with the team.
As two of the best players in the NBA today, a LeBron and KD duo ironically might be the best NBA duo since Durant and Steph Curry.
LeBron and Kevin Durant won championship gold in the 2012 Olympics. LeBron also chose Durant first overall in the inaugural NBA All-Star Draft, not to mention three battles in the NBA Finals. The point is the two already have a lot of history together. So while a partnership would be shocking to some, it would make perfect sense to others.
The Biggest Kyrie Question Is His Availability
Kyrie is one of the most gifted players of all time, and when he is available, he is worth every penny of the price of admission. But Irving’s availability has always been the biggest question when it comes to his basketball capabilities. Per Basketball Reference, he has missed 123 games compared to his just 103 games played. In other words, he has been more unavailable than available.
Last season Kyrie only played 29 games because he refused to get the COVID vaccine required to play home games at Barclays Center. The team initially sidelined him completely but reinstated him in January after a slew of injuries derailed the roster. Still, he was only available for away games until March 24, when the New York City private sector workplace mandate got lifted.
Still, even with all the drama that surrounded Kyrie, he was one of the best point guards available when he played. Per Basketball Reference, he averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game in 29 games with the Nets last season.
But the question remains how available Irving will be if he returns for the Nets this season. With the vaccine mandate lifted and him coming in with a clean bill of health, there are no excuses for him to miss games with the Nets thus far. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.