Kyrie Irving
Geoff Burke | USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving is a true profile in courage.

The Nets should feel blessed by the point guard’s decision to opt in for next season. So fortunate that Irving kicked the tires on sign-and-trade options, but then decided to stay put. Because there were multiple scenarios on the table, according to his favorite insider. If he wanted to leave Brooklyn, he could have. Easily.

But Irving is not going anywhere. Lesser men would. But not a visionary who possesses total consciousness.

“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us to tomorrow,” Irving told The Athletic.

Oh, and the $36.5 million base salary. But who’s counting?

The Nets – specifically Sean Marks, Steve Nash and Joe Tsai – technically won on Monday. They finally stood up to Irving and his nonsense by refusing him a maximum contract extension. And once Irving realized his fallback was a mid-level exception deal with the Lakers, he blinked. Victory for Brooklyn. The Nets retained the mercurial superstar and anti-vaxxer on their terms. The Kevin Durant trade demand threat was eliminated. The championship window stayed open.

But really, the Nets just lost the least. The drama is not going to end. They may hope Irving’s interest in the next payday will serve as a guardrail to compel his best behavior, but it never has in the past. You can’t count on him to be on the floor. You can count on him to cause headaches off of it. This should be considered nothing more than a temporary pause to the chaos and sabotage until proven otherwise. Irving surely remains as delusional and unreliable as ever.

Who knows how strongly the Nets held the sentiment – as reported by ESPN – they would rather lose Durant and Irving than go through another season like the one that ended a few months ago. But could you blame them?

Irving has cost the Nets many things — credibility, dignity, James Harden, perhaps a ring. And now they have to run it back again with no real reason besides irrational faith to believe much, if anything, will change.

If the Nets don’t win a championship with Durant and Irving, they will be one of the most embarrassing sporting flops this region has ever seen. The failure to win a title will inevitably cost Marks and Nash their jobs. It will send the Nets spiraling back into complete irrelevancy. And it will do lasting damage to Durant’s legacy.

Which, to be fair, would be largely Durant’s fault. While he spends a tad too much time tweeting at television sports debaters, Durant has been as advertised since arriving in Brooklyn. He’s been one of the best players in the world, bringing it every night. But he is also the guy who hitched his wagon to Irving and has inexplicably doubled and tripled down on the partnership through it all.

And if the Nets do manage to win it all? They will be a wholly unlikable champion. Only the most blindly loyal fans — the ones who have made it their lives’ work to move the goal posts every five minutes to justify Irving’s antics — will wrap their arms around a victor that prominently features Irving and Ben Simmons. Not that it will matter to the Nets, though.

They are in deep after they railroaded Kenny Atkinson and blew up a steady roster build to sell out for an instant championship. They have let Irving walk all over them, pushing their grand experiment to the brink of collapse. And now they have finally clawed back some ground — all for the low cost of $37 million. But the Nets have to keep going. Have to get what they can. Because that’s how faustian bargains work.

James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.