Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie, D-Lo pairing is a bad idea for Brooklyn

Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets find themselves at the center of the rumors around free-agent-to-be Kyrie Irving, but is a Kyrie-D’Angelo Russell pairing a good idea?

Kyrie Irving is a former NBA champion. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011. He was Rookie of the Year in 2011-12. Irving is a six-time NBA All-Star and has made the All-NBA team twice.

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Kyrie is a prolific scorer with one of the best handles in the NBA. He is excellent at penetrating and finishing in the paint. He’s good from the field. He’s a very good 3-point shooter.

He’s an excellent free throw shooter. He has great court vision. He can rack up assists and hit big shots. He even can play some defense.

Despite all of Irving’s special abilities and impressive career accolades it would be a bad idea for Brooklyn to pair him and D’Angelo Russell by giving them maximum contracts.

The financial implications

Make no mistake about it, Kyrie Irving is going to get a maximum contract next season. If he stays in Boston they can offer him a maximum five-year, $188 million deal.

If the Nets ink Irving to a maximum deal, that contract would be a four years and $139 million . That averages out to a whopping $34.75 million  annual price tag. A steep price indeed.

Mark Pincus of Bleacher Report expects the Nets to offer D-Lo a full five-year maximum contract worth $158.1 million.

That averages out to another monstrous figure of a $31.62 million dollar annual price tag. Even on a four-year contract, the figure is close to $28 million per year for D-Lo.

Add those up as guaranteed contracts for the next four years and the Nets are on the books for an annual average of roughly $66.37 million on the cap sheet for two players who play the same position.

The guaranteed contracts for the entire Brooklyn team in 2019, as of now, is roughly $51.2 million.

Adding the assumed Kyrie and D-Lo combined annual salaries of $66.37 million to the rest of the teams’ $51.2 million salary for 2019 amounts to a total of roughly a $117.57 million budget for Brooklyn next season.

Assuming Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million dollar contract is moved, that still puts the Nets at the cusp of the salary-cap threshold with roughly a guaranteed $99.1 million on the cap sheet for the 2019-20 season.

That figure could fluctuate some if players are moved or if D-Lo signs for less than $20 million per year, but that’s unlikely to happen. Most likely, the team salary for next year will be close to $90 million if both D-Lo and Kyrie are signed to max deals.

The NBA salary cap for the 2018-19 season was $101.869 million per team. The next projected cap increase of $109 million won’t be that much higher to nullify the cap-problems the Kyrie & D-Lo pairing will inevitably bring.

Under such financial restrictions that would arise from this pairing, there would not be much left in the cap to address more important immediate team needs.

Much more cap space would be needed to acquire more roster depth and get a viable stretch forward or post player.

Brooklyn would also be out of the discussion for adding another star this year as well, in one of the deepest free agency crops in recent years.

The Nets wouldn’t have the necessary cap space to acquire the necessary impact players around this pairing to be competitive enough to even try and gamble with this weird double point-guard experiment next season.

Another financial problem is the inevitable free agency of Caris LeVert after next season: If Kyrie and D-Lo are on maximum contracts, can the Nets afford to keep LeVert in 2020?

LeVert is eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, with an October deadline to get it done, but with Irving and Russell on the cap sheet, could the Nets commit to LeVert long-term as well?

If LeVert stays healthy and plays anything like he did in the playoffs he would likely be looking at a huge market value increase. He might fetch something close to a maximum contract in free agency next summer.

Even in that scenario, if the Nets kept LeVert they’d be completely capped-out unable to build a respectable bench, or sign the 3-and-D players at the forward positions they desperately need, now, and in the future.

Finally, if Kyrie gets seriously injured his contract would be very hard to move.

Let’s examine Kyrie Irving historically.

Kyrie, when not paired with LeBron James on superteams, has not shown he can lead a team deep into the playoffs. He played poorly for Boston in this year’s playoffs and disrupted their team chemistry at the same time.

Before LeBron returned to Cleveland, Kyrie, as the leader of the Cavs didn’t take them very far … as in no playoff appearances in three seasons.

Kyrie has proven that he is a superstar when playing on the biggest stage of the NBA Finals. That cannot be taken away from him.

However, the argument can be made that he’s only been a superstar when he’s with LeBron on a superteam.

Brooklyn is not a superteam.

Additionally, Kyrie is a great performer on the biggest stage but if he’s paired with D-Lo, both on max deals, the strong argument can be made that the Nets will never get to that big stage for Kyrie to shine on, if he’s even healthy.