The Brooklyn Nets made a tremendous splash this summer by signing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency, but their project is off to a slow start because of injuries. Durant, of course, is out for the entire season after tearing his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, while Irving has already missed 26 games due to a shoulder injury.
There are clearly championship aspirations in Brooklyn, but that's definitely not happening this season, and might not ever come depending on what form Durant is in when he gets back on the court. But it's clear there's little patience for the process to play out -- at least from Irving. Following the Nets' loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Irving declared that they have "glaring" needs in order to reach the next level.
Irving's full comments, via ESPN:
"I mean, it's transparent. It's out there. It's glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level," Irving said after finishing with 14 points on 6-for-21 shooting in Brooklyn's 117-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night. "I'm going to continue to reiterate it. We're going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we'll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer.
"It's just something that we signed up for. We knew what we were coming into at the beginning of this season. Guys were going down left and right. [Garrett Temple] is out, [DeAndre Jordan] just got hurt tonight, Wilson [Chandler] is coming back. We've got complimentary young guys, as well, that have done a great job the last three years.
"Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it's pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will compliment myself, [Kevin Durant], DJ, GT, Spence [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we'll see how that evolves."
First of all, before we even delve into anything he said, this is just peak Kyrie. The guy missed almost three months of action and three games into his return is giving long, somewhat inflammatory comments to the press after tough losses. Just terrific.
Anyway, on to what he actually said. As is often the case with the mercurial point guard, he wasn't wrong necessarily, but he wasn't exactly helpful either. Obviously the Nets are shorthanded right now, and we'll have to wait until Durant returns to see this team at its full potential. But even when he gets back, it seems reasonable that they'll need another piece or two to become a top-tier contender.
At the same time, that's a year off at least, and a number of players on this team might have to be moved in order to make that happen. Everyone realizes the facts in the back of their minds, but it doesn't help the vibe of the team to start bringing it up in the middle of January, and especially not right after you shoot 6-of-21 from the field and finish minus-29 in an 11-point loss.
It also didn't help that Irving didn't mention Jarrett Allen, the team's promising young center, at the end of his quote. We can probably just chalk that one up to forgetfulness in the moment, but still, not great.
Now, all that being said, this comment isn't really that big of a deal. He didn't bash anyone, or say anything outrageous. What it is, however, is one of the Nets' first real glimpses of the entire Kyrie Experience.