Blaming Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status for the Brooklyn Nets’ demise is overkill to some and right on the money for others.
Indeed, the NBA community and Nets fans are still split on the whole notion that the Nets can win a championship with Kyrie Irving as a part-time player. Eight straight losses and constant James Harden trade rumors suggest that the experiment has been a failure.
When Irving refused to get vaccinated, his teammates and the franchise came to his defense. They said they respected his decision and KD expressed confidence that Irving would be there for his teammates when it mattered, and other guys would step up to fill the void in home games.
Fast forward to one month before the All-Star break and the Nets are a flailing seventh seed. KD is out nursing another injury, and according to reports there’s no timetable for his return.
Via Nick Friedell on Twitter:
“Nash said there is still no specific timeline for KD’s return but they are happy with the reports they’ve been getting from home. ‘We feel really good about his recovery so far. I think he’s well on his way. There’s been no setbacks, and everything’s gone to plan or then some.”
Kyrie Irving is doing his best playing half of the time, but chemistry is definitely an issue as all three players have been on the court less than 20 times this season. Trying to win a championship with Irving only playing road games was going to be one of the biggest challenges in NBA history to begin with. The fact that the organization can’t get all of these players on the court consistently at the same time, to see what they really can achieve, is disheartening.
It’s also very frustrating to Harden, who has been taking a bunch of flak from fans and media for his play and even his potential desire to leave what is an obvious sinking ship in Brooklyn.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a Harden bomb (a small one) on Monday morning.
“When you’ve lost eight games in a row when a player like James Harden is maybe not inspiring the confidence, you know, perhaps you are willing to listen to a massive offer from Philly but right now there’s no indication that that’s going to happen, and Philly is yet to call Brooklyn back. They may just wait until the offseason and pursue James Harden when he can either be a free agent or they could then discuss a sign-and-trade deal, ’cause he has a year left on his deal that he could opt into.”
NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins chimed in right after Woj’s interview, and said if he were Harden he would want out for sure because this wasn’t the scenario he was sold when he agreed to form a Super Team in Brooklyn.
“James Harden gave up everything he built in Houston,” Perkins said. “I know he didn’t win a championship but he had built a lot down here to go to Brooklyn to do what — to win a championship. And now he has to deal with so much other than basketball. Is Kyrie Irving going to play? Is he going to get vaccinated? He didn’t sign up for this. If I’m James Harden, I’m frustrated. I’m ready to get the hell out because I came here for one reason and one reason only.”
Perk added that it may also benefit the Nets at this point to trade Harden.
“If I’m Brooklyn I don’t know what’s going to happen with James Harden this offseason, so if I lose him for nothing, if I have a chance of losing him for nothing, yes I do listen to trade offers, especially for a guy like Ben Simmons.”
Perk said Ben Simmons fits as a piece with which the Nets can continue to contend.
“Ben Simmons would actually fit well with Kevin Durant and part-time Kyrie, Perk said. “Hopefully they can get him full-time.”
Again, neither player is expected to be traded anytime soon, but the potential of combining The Big Cameroon with The Beard, said Perk, changes the face of the Eastern Conference.
“If Joel Embiid and James Harden … if those two combined, they would win the East hands down”
Embiid is widely considered the current frontrunner for MVP; the seven-foot assassin just dropped another 40 piece on Sunday night.
For now, that trade is a little less than a pipe dream because Philly is still trying to punish Simmons instead of working hard to unload him, which is unfair to Embiid. Also Harden reportedly said that he is committed to Brooklyn for the long-term.
Kyrie Irving says he doesn’t have any insight into the situation, but said the Nets are holding Harden to his word.
No one is paying Kendrick Perkins to be a GM anyway. Especially not Nets fans who are hoping that The Big Three will be available to go on an uninterrupted championship quest these upcoming playoffs.
But much has to happen for that plan to materialize for Steve Nash and the crew. Starting with having a full-time Kyrie, which probably isn’t going to happen. So don’t hate on James Harden for wanting a refund on being sold a false bag of goods. He’s been playing like he feels — and when he feels. Same as Kyrie and KD.
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