Following the Nets‘ second loss in two nights on Wednesday, Kyrie Irving told reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, that the team needs to do more work on its roster to become a championship contender.
“I mean, it’s transparent. It’s out there. It’s glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level,” Irving said. “I’m going to continue to reiterate it. We’re going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we’ll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer.”
Of course, the Nets are currently missing their most talented player, as Kevin Durant will spend the entire 2019/20 season recovering from a torn Achilles. However, it didn’t sound as if Irving’s comments applied specifically to this season. The star point guard implied that Brooklyn would need more help even after Durant returns.
“Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces,” Irving said. “But it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, K.D. (Kevin Durant), D.J. (DeAndre Jordan), G.T. (Garrett Temple), Spence (Spencer Dinwiddie), Caris (LeVert), and we’ll see how that evolves.”
Irving’s comments are interesting for a few reasons. For one, his list of core players who need to be complemented didn’t include guys like Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and Joe Harris. Allen is viewed as a young building block for the franchise, Prince signed a contract extension in the fall, and the Nets are expected to try to re-sign Harris later this year. It’s possible that Irving not mentioning any of those players was just an oversight, but it’s still worth noting which names he listed and which he didn’t.
Additionally, the Nets’ flexibility to make roster upgrades going forward will be limited, based on the commitments they made this past offseason to players like Durant, Jordan, and Irving himself. Brooklyn projects to be well over the cap and perhaps over the tax threshold in 2020/21, and general manager Sean Marks and team owner Joseph Tsai have both recently said that the team is prepared to go into the tax in order to build a roster capable of contending for a championship.
Still, spending at that level means the Nets would only have the taxpayer mid-level exception available to make a meaningful addition in free agency. Trading rotation players may be the club’s only other avenue to an upgrade.
With Durant out for the season, the Nets are unlikely to make major changes to their roster at this season’s deadline in an effort to push for a title immediately. But it will be interesting to see how the front office responds in the summer to Irving’s assessment of the roster.