kyrie irving kevin durant nets
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Kyrie Irving’s uncertain future, Kevin Durant is still holding out hope that he will be with the Brooklyn Nets this year.

Danny Small

Kyrie Irving watch continues. The biggest story of the NBA preseason revolves around vaccination mandates and Irving is at the heart of it all. The enigmatic star is currently missing practice because of New York’s vaccination guidelines.

However, even in these uncertain times, Kevin Durant believes Irving will be a part of the Brooklyn Nets when all is said and done.

“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” Durant said via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Maybe I’m just naïve, but that’s just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group, that if we keep doing it we can do something special.”

Although Durant is hopeful, it doesn’t sound like the organization shares his optimism. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst recently reported that the Nets “have made no decision on whether the organization will accommodate him as a part-time player this season.”

As for what we are hearing directly from Irving, we’re not. Irving pressed the media to give him privacy in regards to his vaccination status. Unfortunately, there is no way to keep that private. We will know when and if Irving is vaccinated based on when he returns to the team.

This bizarre situation might seem unprecedented, but it’s par for the course with Irving. This is his second sabbatical since joining the Nets in the summer of 2019. When he’s on the court, there are few guys as dangerous as him.

But that’s only when he’s on the court.

Can the Nets Win Without Irving?

At what point is retirement a legitimate option for Kyrie Irving? He marches to the beat of his own drum and early retirement wouldn’t be the most shocking thing ever. There are already murmurs that Irving will retire if he’s traded by Brooklyn.

So, in this scenario where Irving hangs it up and calls it a career, are the Nets still good enough to win a title?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but it will be a lot harder.

Kevin Durant and James Harden are two of the best offensive players in the NBA. If those two guys are healthy in the playoffs, the Nets can beat anybody. Superstars win championships, but they can’t do it alone.

Without Irving, the Nets are going to have serious depth issues. Top-heavy teams like the Nets allocate tons of salary cap space towards their stars and then fill in the gaps with veterans on cheap contracts and youth on rookie deals.

Losing Irving would mean that guys like Patty Mills, Cam Thomas, and Bruce Brown would have to take on much bigger roles.

Again, they are talented enough to win it all, but it would be an uphill battle.