With the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics finished with their 2018-19 NBA season, they now must adjust their attention to the summer. This is the time where championships are essentially won and lost. This year’s free agent class is stocked with talent while the list of teams for incoming FA’s are not as plentiful as one may think. The Nets and Celtics both have had their names in rumors but for different reasons.
The Celtics have failed miserably the last two seasons in terms of having high-priced players on their roster. Spearheaded by Kyrie Irving, the Celtics, with Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Gordon Hayward has not reached the NBA Finals in what was supposed to be a weakened Eastern Conference.
The Nets, on the other hand, have exceeded expectations while dealing with a roster of players no other teams wanted. Leading the charge was D’Angelo Russell as he transformed his career after the mess that went on with the Los Angeles Lakers. But now, in one summer, the Celtics and the Nets could both very well get a major facelift heading into the new season.
The rumors swirling around the NBA has Irving heading to Brooklyn instead of the New York Knicks. That’s a major change of direction. The reason for this is simple. The Knicks are not built to win in 2019 while the Nets have proven they could be contenders with another elite player. But does Irving fit that bill? And if so, what are the Nets willing to do to get him?
Will the Nets let Russell go in order to get Irving? Is it possible that both players can share the same backcourt? If so, is that even a smart decision? Imagine a backcourt of Irving and Russell. It will easily become one of the toughest in the NBA. On paper, it looks good, but truth be told, it just won’t work. Both players are eat-the-clock ball handlers. The Brooklyn Nets have one option here. It’s either Irving or Russell.
By all accounts, the Nets should let Irving head to the Knicks or whatever other teams he has on his radar. While that may be tough for some Nets’ fans to swallow, they must look at Kyrie’s and Russell’s body of work to understand.
In 2018, Irving averaged 23.8 points and 6.9 assists while shooting .487 percent from the floor. Great numbers but the team fell short, again. In the same season, Russell averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists while hitting .434 percent of his shots. Once again, great numbers but there’s a difference in the production.
Irving was expected to do this while receiving help from his more advanced core of teammates. Russell, on the other hand, put the Nets on his back and rose to become an All-Star. So, when it comes to this decision, the Nets must look at all factors and not just think short-term here. This is the same approach they took with the Deron Willimas, Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce ordeal a few years ago.
Irving will command top dollar on the market. However, chemistry is also a factor when it comes to winning. Mind you, this is the same Irving who faltered when an organization was placed in his hands while with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He didn’t fully excel until LeBron James and Kevin Love arrived. That wasn’t that hard to do. But he’s also the same player who wanted out because he demanded to be a man on his own. Well, since leaving the Cavaliers and LeBron, he’s failed to lead his stacked team (Celtics) to the Finals.
Russell has made his share of mistakes off the court. He’s still young (23 years old) but the potential to be one of the best PG’s in the NBA is there. Why mess with that? Irving will head into the next season is an official vet at the age of 26. Not that far apart in age but where is the difference while on the court? Kyrie is a better shooter at this stage but Russell is making strides.
Placing them in the backcourt together is a no-no. Heck, picking Irving over Russell at this stage is a no. Here’s why. The Celtics will be better without Irving. The Nets are already at that mark. What the Nets must do is focus on their frontcourt. Their backcourt is loaded with talent and potential, We must remember that before he went down with his injury in the first half of the season, Caris LeVert was on his way to the All-Star game.
Then you factor in the rising status of Spencer Dinwiddie, and the Nets have one of the best young backcourt rotations in the league. Why destroy that for a player who may get bored and has yet to prove that a team actually needs him to win? It’s about restoring a franchise back to winning and the Nets, despite one of the craziest trades in NBA history, has done just that without a name superstar.
If they were to look for one to add, then that would have to be a Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard type. The Nets are thin in the frontcourt with DeMarre Carroll possibly signing elsewhere. They will also need to find a trade partner to take on the huge contract of oft-injured Alan Crabbe. His contract has to go if the Nets are to make a push this offseason.
Getting Kyrie is not the best idea or the only option. Nets’ fans are looking for the name and would love to get Irving just to hold it over the Knicks’ head. This is a city built on trash talk but the best way to quiet Knicks’ fans is to win with the core they currently have.