Brooklyn Nets threw themselves into the middle of the NBA offseason when they freed up two max salary slots by trading Allen Crabbe to the Hawks. Kyrie Irving rumours followed, and Irving recently switched agents to join Jay-Z’s ROC Nation Sports, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It was added on Friday by Ian Begley that the Nets are unlikely to keep All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell if they land Irving. While that is hardly surprising – the pair don’t fit well together – it is a further sign of how different the Brooklyn Nets could look in just a few weeks time.
Brooklyn are sticking elbows out into the free agent space the New York Knicks expected to occupy. With a better young core, and the insurance option of keeping restricted free agent Russell, the Nets are, other than the lure of Madison Square Garden, a better free agent destination than the Knicks.
Kevin Durant is likely out for all of next season, making it less likely Irving would team up with the former MVP at MSG. Irving to Brooklyn is a solid move for both parties.
The possible move that is hard to ignore, however, is for Anthony Davis.
The Lakers are the frontrunners for Davis, who reportedly will only extend his contract with the Lakers or Knicks. Brooklyn, meanwhile, should be on the phone to Pelicans executive David Griffin finding to make a deal work, perhaps involving a sign-and-trade for Russell.
Partnering Davis and Irving would be a title-contending foundation at Barclays Center. It might require the Nets to move on Caris LeVert, Russell and other pieces, but as we saw with Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, going all in for an All-NBA star is a gamble worth taking.
This was Brooklyn’s first winning season since 2013/14, and the organisation has finally escaped the long-running pain of the Paul Pierce trade. Returning to the playoffs defied expectations, but this offseason could represent a remarkable turnaround from 28-54 in 2017/18 to one of the NBA’s best teams in 2019/20.