Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
LAS VEGAS -- With Kyrie Irving and (an injured) Kevin Durant on the roster, the Nets, understandably, have high expectations.
"Now it's championship talk. That's all you've got to think about, It's what we've got to work toward," new Net Taurean Prince said on Sunday at halftime of Brooklyn's Summer League game. "We've got to do exactly what we've got to do to get there. Whether it's with Kevin Durant or without him, and then next year even with him, it's same talk."
Brooklyn added Durant and Irving to a team that won 42 games and made the playoffs last season. Durant, of course, is expected to miss the season while rehabbing from an Achilles injury.
"Without having KD this year it's going to be kind of this ease-in process in terms of expectations," Spencer Dinwiddie said. "People are expecting us to be good, like top half in the East, but nobody is saying if you don't win the East it's going to be a lost season, a bust season.
"When KD comes back obviously we want to be a championship-caliber team. I think that goes without saying. I don't think that puts any extra pressure on anything because you're adding -- even at 80 percent hypothetically, still a top-3 player in the world."
According to the New York Times, Dinwiddie played a significant role in recruiting Irving to Brooklyn. The recruitment reportedly started when the two attended a course at Harvard in the offseason.
"We decided to do the Harvard course independently. But he was there so we so kicked it a little bit," Dinwiddie said.
On what attracted Durant and Irving to the Nets, Dinwiddie said, "I think it's what we talked about -- the culture, the fit, understanding what (Nets GM) Sean Marks and (head coach) Kenny (Atikinson) bring. Because it doesn't happen without them."
Irving will replace D'Angelo Russell in Brooklyn next season. So the returning Nets, the coaching staff and Irving will all need to adjustment to each other.
"I think in the sense of culture and organizational fit, we're are kind of just sliding them in to the foundation that's already built," Dinwiddie said. "Obviously on the court, they're going to be the focal point so we're going to wrap around them. But I think with the foundation and just the organization, they kind of just slide into the culture. So I think just having it both ways is attractive to guys like that. Because they don't want to rebuild the whole organization. They just want to say, 'Hey, let's get on the court and it's our show.' Obviously, it's going to be."
Irving could be in a leadership position this season with the young Nets, a position he was in with the Celtics last season. Boston failed to meet expectations; the club lost in the second round to Milwaukee, and Irving was blamed in some corners for falling short in his role as a leader.
However, as Dinwiddie notes, it's unfair to solely blame Irving. Gordon Hayward had a sub-par season in his return from injury and Celtics coach Brad Stevens ultimately couldn't get the new group to coalesce.
"I think in any situation, it's unfair to only blame one party. If you break up with your girlfriend ... it's always going to be a blend (of blame)," Dinwiddie said. "You're going to have blame, she's going to have blame. Maybe it's 80-20. It was mostly her fault but you still had your part in it too. Whatever happened in Boston, I wasn't privy to it, I didn't live it but I would be hard-pressed to believe it was completely one-sided."
Also worth noting on Irving: He was traded to Boston, but he chose to sign with the Nets. So it's fair to think that he may be more fully invested in the long-term success of Brooklyn than he was with Boston. Plus, Durant and DeAndre Jordan will be around the club, which would presumably be helpful to Irving.
Irving, Durant and Jordan have already been in touch with some of the young Nets on the Summer League team, according to Dzanan Musa.
"He loves young players and I think he will help us a lot," Musa said. "He's trying to -- him KD and DeAndre -- they're all trying to kind of be with us and kind of help us through summer league."
Here are some other notes from the Nets interviews at Summer League on Sunday:
Caris LeVert, who has a relationship with Durant, on playing with him: "It's going to be huge for myself as well as the rest of the team. He's a championship guy, multiple championships, multiple (Finals) MVPs as well. So huge to learn from someone like that who works so hard on their game, such a great person as well."
LeVert on if he talked to Durant about the Nets before KD signed: "He actually did (call) a couple times just asked me about the city and the organization. But obviously we have a great organization so it was easy to talk about but I really didn't sell anything."
Prince on Irving: "He's a deep thinker and he thinks things differently than a lot of people and I think that's why he is who he is, in my opinion. Great person from what I've met, very competitive and very strong-minded. ... I think that's why he's so crafty and he does things a lot differently than a lot of basketball players."
Musa on playing with Durant: "Listen to this: (Ten years ago), I went to a European championship in Slovenia, I think. And I didn't have my shoes. So I called my mom (and asked her to) bring me some shoes, this that. But I want KD's shoes. And now to realize that I have him as a teammate, as a mentor, it's unbelievable."
LeVert on losing Russell: "Obviously you hate to see somebody like D'Angelo go. He was great for our organization, obviously one of my best friends as well. But good to see him get paid, good team as well. So I think both sides did a good job. ... And I can't wait to see what he does (in Golden State)."
Prince, who was acquired by Brooklyn in a trade with the Hawks, on playing with the Nets: "I was elated. I know it's a great basketball city, a great city and an organization, especially with Sean Marks and all the guys who make it what it is. I'm not sure what my role will be, but we'll figure it out as time goes on and as the team meshes. I plan to just be myself, and do what I do and just hoop."