Kevin Durant has missed three games now with his latest knee injury.
And the Nets are 0-3.
However, they are not panicking. Because, they say, they are not as toxic as they were when Durant’s absence helped short-circuit last season.
The Nets lost Tuesday night for a third straight time since Kevin Durant sprained his right MCL, but they claim they won’t implode in his absence the way they did last season. That’s because they insist now the locker room is together, and admit a year ago it was toxic.
“Well, last year it was…,” Nic Claxton said following the 106-98 loss to the Spurs, hesitating as he searched for the right adjective. Then he found it. “It was kind of a toxic environment. We didn’t know if everybody wanted to be here at the time.
“This year there’s no divide between everybody that’s out there. We’re going to figure it out. … We’ve just got to figure out how to play with each other without having KD, Kyrie (Irving) out there on the court. It’s different lineups. But we’ll figure it out.”
Everyone will read that as a dig at James Harden. And it probably was. Harden was mailing it in before he got traded to the 76ers. But Irving also did more than his share to destabilize things as a part-timer thanks to his vaccination refusal. And while the Nets are pretending that never happened, it did. As did Irving’s shameful episodes earlier this season in regards to his promotion of an anti-semitic film and repeated lack of remorse.
Irving missed the loss to the Spurs with a calf soreness. It’s not expected to be a long-term issue. But you never know with Irving. On all fronts. And while the Nets are projecting unity, they have to realize this could be a house of cards. They need Irving on the floor producing with Durant out for a while more. And far too often Irving manages to not be on the floor, whether it be due to injury or self-created chaos. So we’ll see.
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