Experiment Two: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant Shock The World
The 2019 offseason was one of the most all-time disappointing offseason for New York Knicks fans. The Knicks had envisioned a big three of Zion Williamson, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant but lost the NBA lottery and watched Irving and Durant sign with their crosstown rivals. With this move, The Nets were set up to be championship contenders.
Durant missed the 2019-2020 season with an ACL injury he suffered in the 2019 finals, while Irving only played in 20 games during the regular season. Brooklyn finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2020-2021 season was supposed to be the Nets year. Durant and Irving returned from injury, and at the trade deadline, Brooklyn built a big three again, acquiring James Harden from the Houston Rockets.
The Nets sent center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland, guard Caris LeVert, forward Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024, and 2026), four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027) to Houston. Once again, the Nets construct a big three and are again in the title picture, hoping for better success.
That Nets team was injured and lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals. If Durant had smaller shoes or were just one step back on his game-tying two-point shot, it would have been a game-winning three-pointer, and Brooklyn would have knocked out the would-be champion, Milwaukee Bucks.
In 2021-2022, a season that seemed like now or never for the Nets, Brooklyn signed many veterans, Blake Griffin, Paul Milsap, and LaMarcus Aldridge, to fortify the team. Riddled by injuries again and a slow start, Harden was traded to the 76ers for a package deal involving Ben Simmons before the trade deadline. The Nets went 44-38 and were swept in the first round by Boston.
This Big Three was another flop; they played 16 games together. That era could have been special if it were not for injuries and many other off-court issues.