There are no winners in latest Kyrie Irving, Nets standoff

Kyrie Irving Nets
AP Photo/John Minchillo

It wouldn’t be a day that ends in Y if there wasn’t some Brooklyn Nets drama, and boy was there a whole mess of it on Monday. Of course, that was the news that Kyrie Irving and the Nets are at an impasse when it comes to his future in Kings County.

And now the once unthinkable is now a possibility, which is that Kyrie Irving could be wearing another team’s jersey next season and officially putting a nail in the coffin of the Big 3 era in Brooklyn. That should be a very scary thought for Nets fans going forward, who once envisioned multiple championships and reigning supreme over New York basketball.

Now they’re just hoping that whatever impasse stands in the way of the two sides figuring this all out can be overcome. However, at this point that seems far from an easy task with both sides seemly dug in and no one coming out of this squeaky clean. 

Ultimately the Nets would be the biggest loser if Irving decides he has had enough of Brooklyn and wants to take his talents elsewhere. He has been increasingly complimentary of LeBron James out in LA and there are sure to be a slew of teams that would line up to try and make it work with the talented point guard. 

There might be some financial gymnastics that would have to occur, but early on the Lakers and New York Knicks are among potentially interested suitors. Boy, would that be something if Irving ended up across the river, however unlikely that is. 

The Nets played a dangerous game with Irving by toying allowing to be half in and half out during the year. Brooklyn took a stand to start the year, but then when COVID struck and the roster became more and more depleted, eventually giving into Irving and allowing him to play part-time.

Whether it was sticking to their guns and keeping him out unless he was vaccinated or just allowing him to play in only road games right from the jump, Sean Marks and Joe Tsai could have eliminated some of the chaos. Flip-flopping halfway through the year only seemed to make things worse and set up the unhappy predicament that we see today.

Marks admitted that Irving’s vaccination status and constant in and out of the lineup status caused a distraction for everyone during the season. But the Brooklyn general manager certainly bears a portion of the blame for how all of this escalated. 

Not just for the inconsistent message during the year, but for the not-so-subtle message he tried to deliver to Irving during his May 12 press conference at the team’s facility in Sunset Park.  

That’s not to absolve Irving in this whole thing either. Not by a long shot. 

Irving holds just as much responsibility in all this as anyone. It isn’t unreasonable at this point that the Nets would be squeamish about investing long-term in Irving considering his lack of availability.

Injuries have kept him off the court, but so have a number of non-basketball-related reasons as well. He has appeared in just 103 of a possible 216 regular-season games for the Nets since his arrival in 2019. 

After James Harden came to Brooklyn last year, the Brooklyn Big 3 of Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant played just 16 games together. Par of that was injuries, but part of it was also Irving’s refusal to get the vaccine, which was part of what led Harden to ultimately leave.

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The clock is ticking on Irving’s decision on whether or not to opt into the final year of his contract. As has been the case for most of this year, all has been quiet on both sides, other than a cryptic tweet from Irving on Monday morning. 

Right now, though, no one has done themselves any good than to drive Nets fans even crazier than they already have been with all the drama during the season.