Irving’s return is a double-edged sword for the struggling Brooklyn Nets

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

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving is set to return to the lineup after missing the last eight games due to a suspension following his retweet of a link to a movie with antisemitic messaging. While the ban was initially for at least five games, it came with a checklist that Irving has just now completed.

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai clearly wanted to send a strong message to Irving and observers. However, the suspension drew criticism from high-profile players leading to some external pressure.

Kyrie Irving is back with the Brooklyn Nets but will he make a difference?

Now, with Irving back and, hopefully, his antics behind him, the Nets can focus on the season. Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t gone particularly well. They sit at 7-9, and the team’s other two stars have controversies of their own. Kevin Durant recently had an eyebrow-raising interview in which he essentially criticized the team’s starting lineup, which didn’t exactly make him look great.

Durant can quiet critics by simply continuing to play well, and with Irving back, the Nets’ starting lineup will be much improved, making his life easier. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons is finally beginning to play better, but only after a players-only meeting resulted in his being called out.

Still, if he can give them semi-consistent scoring to go along with his playmaking and defense, he may salvage his reputation and reverse his fortunes.

So can Irving and the flailing Nets make a run? I mean, they’re certainly talented enough, but injuries, coaching changes, and multiple controversies don’t usually make for a championship team. In fact, no team has ever won a championship after starting the year 7-9. That may seem like an arbitrary stat, but is this team so special as to buck a 76-year trend?

Most likely not; in fact, there was doubt that Tsai’s imposed checklist would even be completed by Irving, thus forcing the Nets to proceed without him. He’s back, at least for the time being, but who’s to say that he won’t have another controversy?

The next straw might be the final one, and the Nets are teetering on the brink between rebuilding and competing. If the Nets send Irving home for good, then that may alienate Durant, who doesn’t seem like the happiest of campers, and he may request another trade, thus forcing the Nets to rely more on Simmons, who doesn’t seem particularly reliable.

dark. Next. Will the chaotic Nets finally hit reset button?

There are a million ways this could go wrong for the Nets, but maybe, just maybe, their stars can put their baggage aside and help the Nets go on a historic run.