The Nets Sunk a Ton of Money Into Kyrie Irving and a Lost Season

Kyrie Irving leads the Brooklyn Nets against the Chicago Bulls
Kyrie Irving leads the Brooklyn Nets against the Chicago Bulls / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving's first season with the Brooklyn Nets is over. After playing in only 20 games, Irving will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the campaign, leaving a rudderless squad in his wake. There's no way to sugarcoat it. This season is a massive failure for the Nets, and they paid a ton of money for it.

The Nets made waves this offseason by signing Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Obviously Irving and Durant were the headliners, with Durant inking a four-year, $164 million deal and Irving taking one worth $142 million over four years. Jordan signed for four years and $40 million, which added three former All-NBA picks to the team's roster.

Brooklyn knew Durant was highly unlikely to play during the 2019-20 season as he recovered from a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Without Durant, Irving was supposed to carry the team this year and begin building toward next season when the Nets would -- in theory -- contend for an Eastern Conference title. That's not what happened.

Irving struggled with injuries all season. He missed two months with a shoulder impingement, then came back for a few weeks, then missed five more games with a knee injury. He missed 33 games and played in just 20 before announcing his season was over due to the shoulder issue.

In the grand scheme of things, Irving has barely spent any time on the court building chemistry with his teammates and getting comfortable in coach Kenny Atkinson's system. In fact, the Nets were better this season without Irving (17-17) than when he played (8-12).

The Nets paid Durant $37.2 million this season to sit out and rehab his way back to health. They paid Irving $31.7 million for 20 games. That's almost $70 million to two guys who have been injured all year.

When Irving was on the court, he was great. He averaged career highs in points (27.4) and rebounds (5.2), and his PER (26.42) is also a career-best. But Irving wasn't out there enough, and this is the sixth season in which he's missed 15 or more games. He's only been in the league for nine seasons, so that's a pretty awful track record.

When the Nets went all-in on Durant and Irving they knew they were taking a risk that this season could be a disaster. But they were betting Irving could be a star and start building something before Durant joined him and led the franchise to glory. So far that plan has been a complete bust.