While it was beginning to seem like Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets was all but done, the latest report is saying not so fast. According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets are having an internal debate of whether or not they should sign Irving if they can’t bring in Kevin Durant along with him. Some Nets fans are furious at the notion that they wouldn’t be satisfied with just adding one superstar. Yet if the Nets do decide to “ghost” Irving, under this scenario, it would prove they’re effectively seeing right through him.
Replacing breakout star D'Angelo Russell for Irving does not make the Nets a better basketball team. In fact, it makes them worse. Russell has developed real chemistry with his teammates, which is something Irving never appears to do. Yes, in a vacuum, Irving is the better player. But in reality, he is just an older, more expensive, moodier version of Russell, not to mention his injury history.
Irving is one of the most mysterious, unpredictable, and bizarre talents the NBA has ever seen. The simple fact he wants to come to Brooklyn tells you all you need to know about him. As I wrote earlier this month, it makes literally no sense that Irving thinks Brooklyn would be an improvement from what he had in Boston. He would be leaving a young, ball-movement driven roster with a strong-handed coach where he was the sole star for a team that is a young, ball-movement driven and has a strong-handed coach where he would be the sole star. And the Nets don’t have the same level of highly-regarded young talent like the Celtics. So, uh, yeah. Not a huge difference there.
The Nets should recognize that the list of positives isn’t long when it comes to the possibility of Irving, and Irving alone, coming to Brooklyn. Sure, he could help attract another star, but there is very little indication anyone would be coming with him to the Nets this season. Not even a second-tier star like Jimmy Butler seems like a good bet at this point.
Brooklyn’s best move – if they can’t add two stars, of course – is to re-sign restricted free agent Russell and continue building around him. Brooklyn could make some noise by adding some middle of the pack free agents like Julius Randle or J.J. Reddick. No, this wouldn’t be a championship team, but neither would an Irving-led Nets team that would probably scare off potential free agents who watched how things unfolded last year in Boston.
Irving is flashy, no doubt. But that’s not worth it here. Don’t fall for it.