Another New Location, But Kyrie Still Kyrie with Nets

Sam Amico

Like everyone else, the Brooklyn Nets have already experienced the great and not-so-great sides of Kyrie Irving.

For example, Irving opened the season by erupting for 50 points, displaying his usual dose of dazzle and individual greatness.

And the Nets lost at home to Minnesota.

Later in October, Irving scored 37 against Memphis ... and the Nets lost.

He also went for 28 against Indiana ... and the Nets lost again.

This isn't to say Irving is a big loser. The Nets are 8-8 entering Monday's game vs. the Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). 

Without Irving, the Nets unquestionably would be worse. He is averaging 28.5 point and 7.2 assists in 11 games.

Cavs fans remember Irving for making the biggest 3-pointer in franchise history, basically a dagger vs. the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.

Cavs fans also remember Irving for demanding a trade in the summer of 2017. 

Just being on a team that reached the Finals three straight years wasn't enough. Irving wanted to run his own squad. At the time, the Cavs had LeBron James. They never would be Irving's to run.

So Irving wanted out and the Cavs sent him to Boston.

He wasn't happy there, either.

'CHRONIC DISSATISFACTION'

The Nets had a good thing going last season. They were a fun, up-and-coming team that became one of the league's best stories. They even got a surprising taste of the playoffs.

But the Nets wanted Irving and Irving wanted the Nets. As some suspected, Irving left the Celtics to team up with Warriors star Kevin Durant in free agency. Interestingly, Durant had won two championships with the Warriors. Like Irving, playing for a proven title contender didn't satisfy Durant.

A lot of players will take less money to compete for a championship. James has done it several times. Irving and Durant (who's out for the year with an Achilles injury) took less to play together.

"It's as if they suffer from chronic dissatisfaction," an opposing general manager told SI.com. "No matter where they are, they'd rather be someplace else."

This doesn't make Irving a bad guy. It just makes his goals seem, well, more individualistic. That may not actually be the case. But it sure can appear that way.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Something else Cavs fans know about Irving -- he tends to spend a lot of time on the injured list.

The Cavs made Irving the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011. He immediately amazed and won over the fans. He immediately gave the Cavs hope in the event James never returned. 

He could handle the ball and get to wherever he wanted on the floor. He could do all that like perhaps no point guard before him, and almost certainly no point guard since.

He was dynamic in every sense of the word. He remains that way today.

But Irving has played just one game in Cleveland since he and the Cavs parted ways. That was the opener in 2017-18. 

He may be with the Nets now, but the tradition marches on. Irving is out Monday with a lingering shoulder issue. (Coincidentally, the Nets also visit Boston this week, and Irving has been ruled out for that one, too.)

Irving's absence isn't necessarily good news for the Cavs.

The Nets had lost three straight before Irving got hurt. They've gone 4-1 since. 

It should also be noted that the Celtics replaced Irving with All-Star Kemba Walker at point guard. They are 11-4 and near the top of the East. 

The Celtics' success is not all because Irving left, but it's safe guess at least part of it is. The steady and team-first Walker is proving to be a much better fit.

NOTHING NEW HERE

And what about the Cavs? Well, they would've loved it if Irving had stayed. He's the type of talent you can build around, especially following another James departure.

Now, the Cavs (5-11) are hoping to find another player who can do the things Irving can do. Or at least someone who can do something similar.

But Irving is still proving to be Irving, so many things wrapped in one. He's remarkable. He's breathtaking. He still hits daggers.

He's also still prone to injury, illness and questions about whether he'll be around when his team needs him most. He always says the right things ... but it's still not clear if he is always willing to deliver those things on the floor.

Sometimes he will. Sometimes he hasn't. That part of Irving hasn't changed.

His city and franchise are different, handpicked by Irving himself. But so far, for better and for worse, it’s been the same old Irving.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
gjguest
gjguest

Right. Irving is ISO ball. Not fun to watch