Watch the NBA long enough and you figure nothing is going to shock you. But the Nets never fail to surprise.
Two years ago, the Nets had the worst record in basketball. Today, they’re in position to get Kyrie Irving … and more than half their fans don’t want him.
Irving is the kind of unguardable player needed to win a championship. He wasn’t just a passenger on the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA title team but one of the 10 best players on the planet. The Nets are also in the running for Kevin Durant, who would be right at the top of that list when he returns.
But signing Irving could come at the cost of D’Angelo Russell. And bringing in the Irving-Durant tandem surely means losing Russell, a restricted free agent, and at 23, not even in his prime.
Nets fans are in a state of civil war, split over an enviable call with no wrong answer.
Team Kyrie or Team D’Lo?
And it’s not just fans. Talk to executives or call agents, and all will give different — often passionate — opinions.
All rave over Irving’s ability and skills. Most think he’s coming to Brooklyn. And many are fascinated to see how he’ll impact the Nets’ culture if he gets here.
“I’d want to see what that’s going to do in the locker room,” the agent for a prominent player drawing interest from the Nets told The Post. “They have good chemistry. How does that change it?”
He isn’t the only one curious.
The Post ran a poll asking readers if they wanted the Nets to sign Irving. Fifty-two percent said “No.” The same number of Celtics fans want Irving gone in a similar poll on Boston.com.
On one hand, Irving’s skill set is unmatched. For all the hot takes about his deleterious effect on the Celtics, their net rating of plus-5.9 with Irving fell to just plus-2.7 without him.
Russell, meanwhile, averaged 21.1 points and seven assists this past season while hitting 234 3-pointers. He’s the youngest to ever put up such lofty stats. The only others to ever achieve that? James Harden and Stephen Curry.
Frankly, as much as the fans agonize over what the Nets do, general manager Sean Marks has put them in great position. Kevin Boyle — who coached both Irving and Russell in high school — will be watching with interest.
“You’ve got to get Durant if you can, I understand that. You might have an argument for Kyrie, because he’s Kyrie. But it’s still a hard one,” Boyle told The Post. “If you [only] get one for the other, it’s a tough call. Not that Kyrie’s not the best, but the age factor becomes a business decision.
“If KD ever teamed up with him, it’s a dangerous package. It’s scary.”
That package would be scary and dangerous for the rest of the Eastern Conference, at least once Durant’s ruptured Achilles heals.
With so many homegrown players who have become fan favorites on the Nets, this summer was always going to see some unpopular moves. Growing pains are uncomfortable, but inevitable.
But Marks has made brave calls before. After co-owner Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the club, Marks traded away his new boss’ favorite player, Jeremy Lin.
There were immediate fan meltdowns, but it was the right move. Lin got his title with Toronto, but Russell got the space to grow into an All-Star and the Nets got the cap space to build a contender.
Whether they use that space to land Irving or to keep Russell, their decision will rile up half the fans. And neither player will be bad.
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Source – https://nypost.com/2019/06/23/nets-fans-completely-split-on-whether-team-should-sign-kyrie-irving/