Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was a no-show at the Drew League in Los Angeles this past weekend. Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley confirmed to ESPN that the mercurial Irving was to play on Saturday, July 16th.
The day came and went with no sign of Irving, but Smiley held out hope that Irving would show up on Sunday. But Irving didn’t appear on Sunday either. If Irving can’t commit to exhibition basketball, why does anyone think he’ll be committed to playing NBA ball this season?
“I don’t know. They were pretty sure he was coming,” Smiley said. “But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it.”
Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley on Kyrie Irving's no-show today: "I don’t know. They were pretty sure he was coming. But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it." Dino said there is a possibility that Kyrie plays in a game on Sunday.
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 17, 2022
“You know how Kyrie is.” That is quite the telling phrase. Yes, we all know how Kyrie is. Notoriously wishy-washy, unfocused and unaccountable.
Irving’s throng of defenders on the internet will no doubt point to his attendance at Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach Phil Handy’s summer camp as the reason Irving didn’t honor his Drew League commitment.
Everyone wanted to know why Kyrie Irving wasn’t at the Drew League with LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan.
Here he is a few hours ago helping Lakers coach Phil Handy with his camp 👏🏽💯
(via @karismajeanofficial/IG) pic.twitter.com/JbMi0HSXSP
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 16, 2022
Ahh yes. Kyrie was helping the kids! That’s the reason he wasn’t at Drew League. Who could fault him for helping kids?
The one thing Irving isn’t is dumb. He knows exactly what he’s doing. The courter of controversy relishes being the center of attention and doing what he wants on his terms. That’s his entire modus operandi.
However, all of this is yet another example why the Brooklyn Nets and Irving’s best friend and teammate Kevin Durant should get as far away from him as possible.
Not showing at the Drew after committing shows how unreliable he is, and this is just exhibition basketball.
Since the 2017-18 season, Irving has played in 230 of a possible 391 regular season games. That’s not even 60 percent.
To be fair to Irving, some of those missed games were due to injury. But this is professional sports. The best ability is availability.
He has taken unexcused absences, refused to get vaccinated, and has otherwise been a distraction. Is there any surprise Nets’ owner Joe Tsai didn’t want to give him a five-year supermax extension? Why would he pay an employee $248 million and not be certain that employee would consistently show up to work?
That’s just bad business.
The vice chairman and cofounder of Alibaba Group is a billionaire ($8.7B net worth); you don’t amass that kind of wealth by making poor business investments. Since buying the team in 2019, Tsai has had three different CEOs of parent company BSE Global. If you don’t perform to his standards, he will replace you.
That’s not as easy to do with NBA players, but the same general concept applies.
Irving’s unreliability is also a problem for Durant. The two-time Finals MVP came to Brooklyn at the request of Irving and the two hitched their stars together. The goal was to run a franchise with the knowledge they’ve acquired as champions elsewhere and build a contender their way.
So far, that has been a complete disaster. It’s mainly due to Irving’s unwillingness to set aside whatever his personal agenda is for the good of the team.
Durant is 33 and at the beginning of a four-year extension that will take him to age 37. These represent the tail-end of his prime. He is an all-time great player who loves to play basketball, by his own admission, more than anything. But his buddy doesn’t feel the same way.
If having a team full of players who love basketball above all else and all they want to do is play, Irving can’t be a part of that.
Irving opted into the last year of his contract earlier this month and will make $36 million this season. The Nets say they are looking to trade both he and Durant, but the market has been dry for both.
Despite his brilliance on the floor, teams are wary of Irving’s unreliability, and while there are no such concerns for Durant; a player of his caliber requires a package too rich for most NBA teams.
The Nets would prefer to keep Durant and move on from Irving. If they can’t find a suitable deal for Irving, they could waive and stretch him. It would be an unprecedented move for a player Irving’s age and caliber, but the Nets would do it just to avoid the headache and drama he brings.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Nets would essentially be paying Kyrie to go away. They waive him so he’d be free to sign wherever once he cleared waivers, and the team would stretch that remaining $36 million over the next three seasons.