The Nets had a major free agency signing 6x All star Kyrie Irving and 10x all star Kevin Durant. As many know, KD tore his achilles in the NBA finals so he will be out for most of the season. This year, the Nets will most likely make the playoffs as a 5th or 6th seed as the Knicks will be one of the worst teams again. A big reason why I like the Knicks future more is because I don’t trust Kyrie.
Why Kyrie is a bad fit:
I think Irving is the second most talented PG in the NBA behind Steph Curry, but I don’t think Kyrie is a good leader. Irving will get his 24 points a night, but how will he make players around him better? Last year he averaged 6.9 apg, which was a career high, but he is a ball dominant player so I don’t expect him to really help his teammates. If Kyrie wanted to, he could lead the NBA in assists, because he is a great passer when he wants to be. Last season, Kyrie entered a Celtics team that lost in game 7 of the conference finals to Lebron who had a lot of young talent and a culture that everyone on the team bought into. Kyrie came in and made it a circus. I don’t put all of the blame on him, but I think a lot of it was his fault. He threw players under the bus after a loss, didn’t respect Brad Stevens (who is one of the best coaches in the NBA in my opinion), and stunted the growth of many young players around him. Now he is coming to a Nets team with many young players like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa, Taurean Prince, and Nicolas Claxton. If Kyrie didn’t respect the Celtics young guys, why should I believe Irving is going to respect the Nets young talent who haven’t accomplished nearly as much as the Celtics guys had. In addition to this, I don’t believe Kyrie is going to get along with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. In a regular season game, former Nets PG D’Angelo Russell, didn’t box out 2 possessions in a row, and that made Atkinson livid. He then benched Russell the last 8 minutes of the game despite the fact it was a close game. On Kenny’s team, everyone needs to buy in, so why should we expect Irving to be a true leader and buy into the Nets culture when he didn’t before.
The Nets future isn’t as glamorous as people think:
Durant is one of the NBA’s top players, so when he’s back, he should be a dangerous weapon. He is turning 31 in late September, so it scares me how much of his athleticism he will have. I think this could affect his defense, but his offense and jump shot I expect to return. I think they are overpaying DeAndre Jordan at 4 years for about $40 million total who is clearly on the decline of his NBA career. They also have a young, but talented center in Jarrett Allen, who has the exact same role as Jordan, and they will never work together on the court as neither are great shooters.
The Knicks had an underrated offseason:
To switch over to the Knicks, they had a quiet but productive offseason. I actually believe 3rd overall pick R.J. Barrett will develop into an allstar eventually, but it will take time. I like the signing of Julius Randle who can absolutely play and put up numbers. I doubted that if he couldn’t become a reliable 3 point shooter, then Randle couldn’t be a max guy. This year though, he shot 34.4% from 3 on 2.7 attempts per game. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 25.7 points, and was efficient shooting 52.4% from the court. Mitchell Robinson showed he can be an athletic rim runner who can protect the rim with over a ridiculous 4.3 blocks per 36 min. Also, last years 1st round pick Kevin Knox has great size for a forward. He has a fluid jumpshot that will open up the floor for others as long as he can stay healthy. I don’t think any other players are locked in for the future, but you can make an argument for Allonzo Trier who came out no where and Bobby Portis who fits with the Knicks timeline. I don’t believe a team can win with Dennis Smith as their PG due to his character, score first mentality, and inability to shoot from 3.
The Knicks front office isn’t as disastrous as people think:
The Knicks have been mocked for signing 4 players who’s natural position is PF. The public is overreacting to this as they are versatile players who can play multiple positions on short term deals. Additionally, people can argue that as long as James Dolan is in charge, the Knicks will never be relevant. I’d agree with that, except Dolan is no longer in charge. In 2017, Scott Perry became the Knicks GM and since then he has done very little wrong. He has drafted well in the past 2 drafts with Knox, Robinson, Barrett, Ignas Brazdeikis, and even got a steal in Allonzo Trier as an undrafted free agent. He hasn’t forfeited money that will make the Knicks feel trapped as he has been signing most players on short term deals. I also think he handled the Kristaps Porzingis trade very well as their were rumors he wanted out, but within hours we knew he was traded. This could’ve been a lot worse as we saw what happened to the Lakers this year with all the rumors and everything being so public. Although everyone thought the Knicks were going to be signing Durant, Scott Perry didn’t even attempt to sign him. Dolan was the one who was saying they are going to make a splash in free agency. Dolan reminds me of LaVar Ball. They both say whatever they want, but have no real control in what actually happens. As long as Perry is making the basketball decisions, the Knicks will be fine.
What the future holds for these two franchises:
I expect the Nets will feel trapped with the injury prone and demanding Kyrie Irving in a couple years. I expect them to be in the playoffs for the next couple seasons, but never reach the NBA finals. In five years from now, people are going to look at them and think they underachieved for the talent they had. On the otherhand, the Knicks will fix their culture and have a young, but talented team that plays hard and will give their fanbase hope it hasn’t had in a long time.
Article written by Bradley Patten
All stats provided by “Basketball-Reference” (https://www.basketball-reference.com/)
Image provided by “Hero Sports” (https://herosports.com/nba/brooklyn-nets-vs-new-york-knicks-01252019-cjcj)