It started with a 50-point appearance and ended with a loss, with countless controversies in between.
Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the Brooklyn Nets ended on Sunday.
The Nets traded the 6-foot-2 point guard to the Dallas Mavericks, according to him Athletic Shams Al-Shaaraniyyah. In contrast, the organization reunites with Spencer Dinwiddie, who spent five years in Brooklyn refining his career under Kenny Atkinson. The Nets also receive Dorian Feeney-Smith in the deal, along with an unprotected first-round pick in 2029 and a second-round pick in 2027 and 2029. Markiv Morris, pulled from Saturday’s win over the Wizards, heads to Dallas with Irving. .
when @employee He says its time to go and pack your bags.
Plus Elijah said he wanted to go home 😅🙏🏾 https://t.co/Enuqat6v0N
– Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) February 5, 2023
The consensus around the league seems to be that the Nets got a good Irving return. They turned an unreliable star into two starters, as well as two draft picks. But was that enough to convince Kevin Durant that he can still fight for the title this year?
Durant has been out for nearly a month with his second MCL sprain in as many years. The Nets are expected to give an update on his condition early Monday, but all indications are that his rehabilitation has been smooth. He previously expressed interest in playing in the All-Star Game on February 19, which means he’ll be back for the final few games before the break. Trading Irving doesn’t calm the chaos surrounding the Nets because Durant’s perspective on the trade can determine if a team is built to compete without Irving as he is.
If not, the Nets now have the assets to make another trade with the picks they got, along with the salaries of Seth Curry, Joe Harris, and Patty Mills. They can also forward Dinwiddie or Finney-Smith (or both) before the trading deadline on Thursday.
The deal ends four tumultuous years for the Nets and Irving. When he scored 50 points in his 2019 debut against the Timberwolves, it was the return of the New Jersey native to the franchise he welcomed as a kid. Once Durant’s rehabilitation from his Achilles tendon injury was over, the possibilities seemed endless. Now, the Irving era ends with mediocre results, just 143 regular season games played over four seasons and one contention after another.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets in the summer prior to the 2019-20 season.
In over three seasons while they were both on the Brooklyn roster, they appeared in just 74 games together.
Erosion @employee pic.twitter.com/3bOTzEt69v
– The Athletic February 5, 2023
The 2019-20 season included Irving making his debut calling the Nets roster shortcomings “glaring” after a January loss to the Sixers at which he had a weak shot. A month later, his season ended due to a shoulder impingement.
The following season saw the team trade depth and future draft options for James Harden, all while Irving was away from the team. (It was later discovered that Irving was attending a relative’s birthday party.) The trade was viewed by some as insurance for Durant due to Irving’s lack of reliability. But in a year marred by injuries elsewhere, Irving produced a 50-40-90 season and played in 54 of 72 games, more than Durant or Harden.
This 2020-21 season saw Brooklyn’s best window to win the title with their three-headed offensive beast. But Irving landed on Giannis Antetokounmpo and sprained his ankle in Game 4 of the conference semifinals, which cost him the rest of the postseason. The Bucks went on to beat the Nets in seven games on their way to the championship. Had Irving never fallen, the Nets might have won the title with or without Harden, who re-injured his hamstring in the Game 1 series of the Bucks.
Last season, Irving’s refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine rendered him ineligible for home games, leading the Nets to sideline him until reversing course to bring him back part-time in January. Irving’s lack of commitment to the Nets led to Harden’s trade request being considered, which the Nets awarded by sending him to the Sixers. Irving’s former team, the Boston Celtics, made the Nets out of the playoffs, making it to the NBA Finals without him.
In his final comments for the season, Irving talked about “co-managing” the franchise with Durant. Two months later, Irving sought a signing and trade out of town after the Nets refused to offer him a long-term contract extension. When nothing materialized, he chose his player’s option instead.
This season, it took Irving less than 10 games to get into hot water. His promotion of an anti-Semitic documentary in November and his refusal to apologize led to an eight match ban. His relationship with Nike has cost him, despite having one of the best-selling sneakers in the industry. (Ironically, Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison has a relationship with Irving from Harrison’s time at Nike.) Since Irving’s return from suspension, he’s let his play do the talking. He was named an All-Star Player after averaging 27 points per game on 49 percent shooting.
Irving’s latest trade order came after another round of failed contract talks and just two days after the Celtics lost in Boston. Irving looked sad when he talked about his former team and how they’re running the Eastern Conference without him, but he’s hopeful the Nets can turn that around.
“It’s clear on the same day that they want to win the championship and they don’t waste any time in the regular season,” Irving said. “So tonight I just felt like we were just one of those teams on the road, we can’t be one of those teams in a way; we have to be one of those teams that stand up to them and at least show them that we’re going to be competitive going forward, which I think we are but tonight We didn’t show it.”
Now the Nets will have to show the difference without Irving.
Along the way, Irving left plenty of highlights. He set a franchise record for points scored in a game with his 60 against the Magic this past March. His buzzer hit was against the Raptors in December The highlight of the net is 12-1 for the monthAnother best franchise. Off the court, he supported his high school, The Patrick School, and donated to various charities and causes. Throughout the drama, Irving’s talent was undeniable. He put in dribbling clinics that the Harlem Globetrotters would envy and scored glass in the few corners they attempted. Many players who have tried to study his game have compared Irving’s handles to owning the ball in a yo-yo.
Now that Irving is headed to Texas, the Nets can move on from the Irving drama with the help of someone who has a history with both Irving and the organization.
Re-enter Dinwiddie, who has some experience taking Irving’s position. After impinging Irving’s shoulder in November 2019, Dinwiddie kept the Nets afloat, averaging 27 points per game on 43 percent shooting the following month. Shortly before his death, Dinwiddie’s childhood hero, the late Kobe Bryant, told him he was playing like an All-Star. Dinwiddie pulled off a game-winner against the Lakers in his hometown of Los Angeles the night before the country went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which marked his last big internet moment.
Dinwiddie started alongside Irving and Durant in the duo’s first season together, but tore his ACL in Charlotte three games into the season, ending his season. The team traded for Harden weeks later. This injury makes for an interesting hypothesis in Neets lore. If Dinwiddie doesn’t get hurt, is he included in Harden’s deal? Will he roll the net with three goalkeepers in Harden, Dinwiddie and Irving? The injuries that occurred warranted the presence of the three.
Dinwiddie said the athlete In October, he pondered how his tenure with the Nets might have changed had he not been injured.
“I don’t know if the trade still happens or if I’m involved in it regardless of whether I’m involved in it or not, I think the Nets are a championship team,” Dinwiddie said. “Just because if you look at how close this team is, we’ve been squeezing people in before I get hurt, even if they trade me in, that means they’re probably going to keep one Caris (LeVert) or Jarrett (Allen), which obviously is It was really needed.
“Or if I’m not around, that means I’m still here… and Harden. Either way you split it, I think all three of those scenarios might be a team winning the championship.”
Can the Nets win one with him now?
Dinwiddie was part of the core along with Harris, LeVert and Allen that made the Nets attractive to Durant and Irving and helped revive the franchise after the dark years following a failed Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade to the Celtics in 2013. Since signing Durant and Irving in 2019 Much has been made about the potential to change networking culture for the worse. Does bringing Dinwiddie back to Irving help get any of it back? He came to Brooklyn at 23, left at 28 and returned two months before he turned 30 after stops in Washington, D.C. and Dallas.
As a cybernetic, Dinwiddie was known as a slasher, but his shooting has improved since he left town. This year, he’s hit a career-high 41 percent from 3. No player can replace Irving. What happens to Ben Simmons as Dinwiddie is likely to be the Nets’ new primary ball handler? It’s hard to believe the networks are done with the deal.
For now, Irving’s tenure as the Internet has come to an end, ending a period with starring potential that was ultimately defined by Hollywood-wide melodrama. Now, the Nets have to follow the Celtics’ lead and prove they can fight for the title without Irving.
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(Photo by Kyrie Irving: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)