Kyrie Irving may not be speaking to the assembled media in Brooklyn right now, which earned him a $25,000 fine late last week that will continue accruing as his silence continues, but he did find a way on Saturday night to talk hoops and life with the masses as he hopped on Instagram Live with Kevin Durant.
The two talked about all manner of topics, but the clip that’s drawn the most interest came in a conversation about how they see the Nets offense working. Irving, of course, famously said he felt that everyone on the Nets was something of a coach after Steve Nash was hired, and while Mike D’Antoni is the assistant in charge of offense (understandably given his history coaching elite offensive units) the stars of the team will surely have their say.
At one point Irving suggested he should go in the post a lot this season because he, like Durant, can get his shot off over most any opposing point guard and create a mismatch in that spot. Durant very kindly explained why he didn’t think that was a good idea and got Irving somewhat on board with scaling back his request, but not fully, leaving KD to eventually just change the subject.
Kyrie: “I just want to be able to be like — in my past life, like I said , I was you. I was you. What you are now, that’s what I’m up here. Same mentality, I’m getting to a spot. I’m raising up. I’m getting to a bucket. My footwork is impeccable. I have length. I’m able to shoot over the top, hold the follow through, and I don’t see people. Do you not feel the same way?”
KD: “I do sometimes, I’m just saying I don’t think that’s good for the continuity of our offense if our point guard always wants to be underneath the rim, you know what I’m saying?”
Kyrie: “You know what, that can come off…”
KD: “You get what I mean?”
Kyrie: “I do, you’re right. That can come off like I’m trying to implement myself — OK, so what about 7 post ups instead of 8.”
KD: “I mean we negotiated, I thought we was gonna do 2.5 postups a game. The half one was like, I throw you the ball in the post and you throw it right back out to me.”
Kyrie: “No, but I’m also saying I feel like every play down I have a mismatch, no matter who’s in front of me. So I think that mentality, mixed with having that post-guard is a great balance for our squad.”
KD: “We’re gonna see though.”
Kyrie: “I know my post-ups are negotiable. But I think four a half works. Like 8, that…what?”
KD: “We’ll see. I got another question.”
The 2.5 postups line from KD is objectively hilarious, and it’s clear that he’s not fully on board with this plan for Irving to postup four times per half and is trying to think of the impact of Kyrie’s role on the team, whereas it seems Irving is a bit more focused on how he can be most effective for himself. That dichotomy is fascinating and certainly presents some of the challenges that are going to come in this partnership and for the Nets in figuring out how to appease both of their stars while also constructing the best possible offensive system that works for the entire roster.
It’s a glimpse behind the curtain of the types of conversation that will surely happen over and over in practices and beyond as the Nets try to find themselves and build something from scratch with two stars that have never played together and a coaching staff that’s never been with them. I think it’s also representative of both Durant and Irving’s experiences to this point. Kyrie saw his chance to be “the guy” taken away in Cleveland by LeBron’s arrival and did his part to play a secondary starring role en route to a title, but left, in part, due to a desire to to be a leader elsewhere. He’s still chasing that a bit even now in Brooklyn after injury issues have derailed progress in Boston and now Brooklyn. Durant, meanwhile, has had to be the one fitting into a culture and a system and understands the difficulty of that from his time in Golden State, and seems much more cognizant of the impact star demands can have on the rest of the team’s psyche and the importance of that to winning.
This is one of the reasons the Nets are heavily intriguing, because it’s clear these are two stars that truly like each other off the floor but have somewhat different approaches on it. They have to navigate that part for the first time with a new coaching staff and it has the potential for greatness but also to be combustible. One thing that’s clear from this video is that, if nothing else, KD has a deft touch when it comes to talking Irving off of some of his requests and deflecting when needed to avoid conflict but also just let something fade away.