With the first round of the NBA playoffs coming to a close, some surprising storylines have arisen. One of, if not the main surprise, was the unprecedented failure that the Brooklyn Nets turned out to be, getting swept by the Boston Celtics in four games. The Nets went into the season championship favorites, so for them to lose in the first round was shocking. There’s plenty of blame to share for Brooklyn, but one of the main problems was superstar guard Kyrie Irving. Irving now has a 36.9 million dollar player option which he will likely decline, rendering him a free agent. His off-court issues aside, where he signs this offseason could change the landscape of the NBA, and send the future of Brooklyn in a tailspin.
The Future of the Most Polarizing Man in the NBA, Kyrie Irving
Before delving into the future of both Irving and the landscape of the NBA this season and beyond, let’s look at the Boston-Brooklyn series. Kyrie doesn’t deserve all of the blame-it was objectively a nightmare matchup for the Brooklyn Nets. Not only were the Boston Celtics ranked first in the entire league in defensive rating and points allowed per game, but Brooklyn played right into Boston’s hands. Boston gave Brooklyn’s other superstar Kevin Durant fits over the four-game series, forcing him into over 5 turnovers per game.
Even though Durant struggled to carry his share of the scoring load throughout the uneven series, Irving wasn’t any better. He shot an effective field goal percentage of just 42.6, the second-lowest mark of his career. That 42.6 percent was mostly because of his inability to create open looks for himself, and it hurt Brooklyn’s once Herculean offense. Outside of his brilliant Game 1 showing, Kyrie shot 37 percent from the field in games 2-4 and averaged just 15 points per game over that span. Not only did he come up short on offense, but he was also a total liability on defense.
Boston was able to score at will over Irving, targeting him in the closing moments of every game. Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum hit the game-winning layup over Irving in Game 1, and Boston attacked him in the pick-and-roll all series long. Irving also committed 3.3 fouls per game, the highest mark of his career in a playoff series, suggesting he couldn’t stay in front of his assignment. It’s not often Kyrie Irving struggles on both sides of the ball, but he did in this one. These 2022 playoffs were easily one of the worst of Irving’s career, and one he’ll look to forget.
What’s Next for Kyrie Irving?
So, now Irving is here. Irving will likely decline his 36.9 million dollar player option and look to sign a supermax extension. Irving has stated that he wants to stay in Brooklyn, but Brooklyn fans should wait to rejoice until his pen hits the paper. In front of Boston fans in 2018 before leaving for Brooklyn, Kyrie said his now infamous line. “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
That quote is perhaps the reason why everyone who follows the NBA is so skeptical about Irving’s future in Brooklyn. For those who don’t get it, Irving never re-signed and was lying to please the fans. The one thing about Uncle Drew that everyone can agree on is that you never know what’s next. He’s not only the most polarizing player in the NBA, but he’s also easily the most unpredictable as well. Yes, it would make sense for Irving to stay in Brooklyn, but what would stop him from signing elsewhere? Nothing, and that’s what’s so scary.
Whichever team Irving does sign to will become better on paper, but skeptics will continue to question his off-court struggles. Irving refused to get vaccinated earlier in the season, which harmed Brooklyn’s chemistry and gave Brooklyn bad press. It’s impossible to know what Irving and his future in the NBA holds. That’s the double-edged sword the superstar guard is, so until he signs, everyone will just have to wait.
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