15 Players the Brooklyn Nets gave up on way too soon

Brooklyn Nets Vince Carter (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Vince Carter (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

1. The Big 3 that never was

The Nets went from a surprise team that reached the playoffs without a star to having two stars overnight in 2019. Most thought Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were going to team up on the Knicks in free agency, but they chose Brooklyn after watching their young talented roster find a way to reach the postseason without a marquee name.

Durant missed his entire first season in Brooklyn recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals. Irving played just 20 games during a season derailed by injuries, but the Nets again made the playoffs.

With KD and Kyrie both healthy in the 2020-21 season, the Nets decided to trade for James Harden to give them a feared “Big 3” that instantly made Brooklyn the title favorites in Vegas. What team could stop that offensive trio?

The Nets dealt with injuries but pushed the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks to seven games in the second round of the playoffs. Brooklyn was literally inches from winning that series, but it was not meant to be.

Things unraveled quickly from there. Drama followed the franchise everywhere and led to Harden requesting a trade to Philadelphia. Just one year later, both Irving and Durant were traded to the Western Conference, and the Nets were again facing a rebuild.

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The Brooklyn Nets were so close to winning a championship and building one of the best teams in NBA history, but it just never worked out. Did they abandon it too soon? Probably, but the drama just became too much for any of their stars to handle.