Joe Tsai, the horses have left the stable, the train is off the track, and there is no time left on the clock. You went all in to get Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and it has not produced the return that you wanted on the basketball court.
I certainly hope that you weren’t delusional enough to believe that the Brooklyn Nets would ever rate the same in their home city as the New York Knicks. You were going to have to settle for being the Dallas Cowboys of the NBA, sans the support from the locals. Tsai’s Nets have certainly received Cowboys treatment from the national media because this club has been fascinating, and just like the Cowboys, it’s not because of the in-game product.
The trades, the complaints, the book about Durant and Irving running the team, and just the whole Irving experience. The millennials went full millennial in the borough where Biggie was born, and the content spewed out like water from the fire hydrant that was twisted open in Do the Right Thing. For all of the gossip and drama, the one thing that hasn’t been a constant for the Nets is winning.
Without this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, we could’ve just laughed at Irving’s flat-earth logic. Instead, it became an issue when he missed 54 games in 2021-22 because he refused to get vaccinated. Combine that with a Durant injury, the Nets end up in the play-in tournament, and get bounced in the first round by the No. 1 overall seed.
There have been reports throughout the entire offseason that Durant isn’t happy with the Nets front office, and was not in contact with them. Yesterday there was a report that he met directly with Tsai and said either Steve Nash and Sean Marks are out, or he wants to be traded. Quickly after Shams Charania reported that news, Tsai sent out a tweet.
It’s too late now to lock the barn door. Shortly after Nash was hired, Kyrie Irving went on Kevin Durant’s podcast and said “I don’t really see us having a head coach.” That was the team dynamic right there. Irving and Durant saw themselves as part of the organizational chart as well as basketball players. That’s the way it’s going to have to be in Brooklyn.
For Tsai to try and wrest control back from them, it makes this entire experiment a waste of three seasons, and really a waste of the Nets’ entire time in Brooklyn. Two owners, one big trade each, turds all the way around. If there is a chance that the Nets can get Irving and Durant on the floor in this final year of Irving’s contract, Tsai has to do whatever it takes.
With T.J. Warren, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, and Ben Simmons returning from injury, this is a better supporting cast than last season. If Durant has to miss some time, or if the internet continues to melt Irving’s brain, at least there is some talent to keep the team competitive in a strong Eastern Conference.
Tsai has to suck it up for one more season. A full-scale rebuild right now and the Nets go back to irrelevance, and lose whatever weak hold that they have on the city. Even though he wasn’t involved in the first failed trade that destroyed their draft capital, it’s a terrible look if going into the Nets’ 10th season in Brooklyn in 2023-24, their only accomplishments are two second-round exits and their home stadium further gentrifying the borough.
Nash has to go. Marks has to go. Durant isn’t going to relinquish his power now, especially after that Robitussin-tasting 2021-22 season. It’s not now or never for the Nets, it’s now and right now. Tsai bet on Nash and Marks, but the bet was that they would work well with Durant and Irving. He lost that one, but this roster still can compete and still at least keep his team in the public consciousness.
He made his big bet on Durant and Irving being able to deliver by giving them say in front office decisions. Tsai shouldn’t just leave the table in the middle of the hand. He needs to play this out and hope that he is finally due for a big win.