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The fall of the Brooklyn Nets

The Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era in Brooklyn is officially over. In two of the biggest moves of the past NBA trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets agreed on a trade sending Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a 2027 first-round pick and two second-round picks. Days later, Durant was shipped off to the Phoenix Suns. In return, the Nets received Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round NBA draft picks and a pick swap. 

Let’s take a look at how the Brooklyn Nets fell apart and what it means for the rest of the NBA. Irving signed with the Nets in the summer of 2019 along with Durant, but constant injuries and off-court issues have only allowed him to play 143 out of a possible 278 games. Tensions continued to rise when the team suspended Irving after he shared a film with antisemitic views, but issues with a potential contract extension was the nail in the coffin.

The 30-year-old point guard was searching for a long-term extension from the team this past offseason, but due to injury concerns the Nets weren’t budging. The Nets offered a contract filled with money-based incentives such as winning a championship. Irving was reportedly offended by the offer, so following a win versus the Lakers he requested a trade. Three days later he was a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks had been criticized for not pairing another star next to All-Star and MVP candidate Luka Doncic, but the organization took their first risk since trading for Kristaps Porzingis back in 2019. Adding Irving creates one of the most deadly scoring backcourts in the NBA, and finally Doncic has someone else who can consistently create for himself and others. With championship pedigree and experience, the All-Star guard gives the Mavericks what they need to conquer the Western Conference. Irving is ecstatic to be joining the Mavericks, according to Chris Haynes and TNT. The trade has the potential to be a one-year rental, due to Irving’s contract expiring the upcoming offseason. Irving was reportedly looking for an extension from Brooklyn worth around $198.5 million.

This past offseason, Durant requested a trade in hopes of joining another true championship contender, with the Phoenix Suns as a team of preference. No trades were found, so an agreement was made for Durant to stay with the team. According to ESPN, Durant requested a meeting with Nets general manager Sean Marks.

Just a day later, Durant was officially a Phoenix Sun. Following the trade deadline, the Suns championship odds jumped to second in the NBA, only behind the Boston Celtics. Adding Durant, a two-time Finals MVP, makes them a very difficult out in the playoffs. Durant is currently out and not expected to return until after the All-Star break, so there will not be much time in the regular season to see how he meshes with Phoenix stars Devin Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton.

When Durant and Irving signed to the Nets, there were championship expectations. Looking back at the Durant and Irving era in Brooklyn, it is full of what could have been. The duo only won a single playoff series in their time together. Irving’s off-the-court issues and constant injuries derailed a team with championship potential. Trading Durant and Irving is a full reset for the Nets. With lots of picks and talented assets, Brooklyn is building for the future.

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