With Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets have no good path forward

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Here’s the good news from the Kyrie Irving-Brooklyn Nets debacle: Hopefully this will be the last time somebody retweets something and then tries to dodge accountability for its contents. That has always been the lamest copout. Retweeting something means you agree with it, so don’t retweet unless you are prepared to own it.

Otherwise, there’s nothing good here. Irving has shown himself yet again capable of sabotaging what should have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. He is suspended for five games, but with conditions attached to his return, that could be difficult unless he demonstrates some sincere remorse, a sentiment that has been more elusive throughout Irving’s career than his best crossover dribble. The more pressing question at this point is whether Irving has finally burned one bridge too many.

The Brooklyn Nets don’t have any good options to choose from with Kyrie Irving.

The Nets won their first game after the suspension was announced by 42 points, which almost serves as a statement about the value of playing without distractions. There’s probably not enough talent on the roster without Irving to sustain anything near that level of play for very long, but they were 2-6 with Irving playing, so it’s hard to imagine any path to contending either way.

The best-case scenario is for Irving to come back and play the last 70 or so games at a level that makes the Nets or someone else want to give him a max deal after the season. That’s a nice idea, but Irving has made it to 70 games three times in his career, which tells us not to bet on the current setback being the last.

So what is next? Anyone who trades for Irving will face blowback that will make the fuss around Deshaun Watson seem tame. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen; it just means the best deal the Nets can hope for is someone else’s damaged goods. The Nets could just waive him, but that would basically be the first step in a teardown because a Durant trade would surely follow soon after. That might be the smart play after all, because Durant is 34 and has been injured a lot, meaning his trade value will never be higher.

But this core was supposed to deliver titles. Sean Marks was brought in to clean up the detritus from the Kevin Garnett trade, then he retooled that rebuild to bring in Durant and Irving, then James Harden, then Ben Simmons. He’s smart enough to know that he only gets so many resets, and if he starts over now, he probably won’t be around to see the next reset come to fruition.

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This means that the most likely scenario is that Kyrie Irving suits up for the Nets after some period of cooling off and an appropriate display of contrition, sincere or not. Whether that will be a plus or a minus for the Brooklyn Nets remains to be seen, but they are probably stuck with each other, at least for this season.