Amid Kyrie Irving’s mysterious absence, Nets sputtering to start new era

Kyrie Irving Nets
Kyrie Irving has missed the last three games due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

What seems to be derailing the Brooklyn Nets’ early foray into the status of “superteam” is those inside their very own ranks. 

Kyrie Irving has missed the last three games for what has been described as “personal reasons,” though the Nets and their representatives have done little to provide any more clarity on the situation. 

Speculation has flown around since then as to why the 28-year-old All-Star has been absent. Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com reported on Thursday that Irving “just didn’t want to play.”

Anthony Puccio of The Association added on Friday that Irving has been “very upset about everything that is going on in this country,” including the riots at the Capitol and the Breonna Taylor verdict. 

The Nets have offered their support in the meantime. His teammate and the other half of the dynamic duo, Kevin Durant, said “we support him 100% and pray for the best.” 

But when asked about if the Nets have been satisfied with the communication between the organization and Irving, head coach Steve Nash opened the door for some more speculation.

“I’m not going to go into any of the talks with Ky, that’s just a private matter,” he said. 

This could be a head coach trying to respect the privacy of his player but a simple “yes” to the question would have squashed some early unease. 

Nash learned of Irving’s initial sit-out on Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers when players received text messages before the game from the point guard and it is assumed that communication has been minimal since then. 

It’s still plenty early in this shortened 2020-21 season, but the Nets have continuously been robbed of the time that would see Irving and Durant on the floor together — thus making the Nets one of the more formidable teams in the Eastern Conference. 

While Durant rehabbed a ruptured Achilles all of last season, Irving was limited to just 20 games due to a litany of injuries. 

Now with both stars healthy — Durant recently getting over a second run-in with COVID-19 — they’ve only played six of the Nets’ first 10 games together, and none of the last four. The Nets are 3-6 in their last nine games, including a 13-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night, and sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. 

With Spencer Dinwiddie already lost for the season, Irving’s unexplained absence is only putting more pressure on a Nets team that has sky-high expectations this season, which is already Year 2 of the four-year plan featuring Kyrie and KD. 

They face the high-powered Denver Nuggets on Tuesday before an all-New-York tilt with the Knicks one night later. 

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