TTX Sports >Basketball Hub >Kenyon Martin talks Nets, Kevin Durant's injury, Kyrie Irving backlash

Kenyon Martin talks Nets, Kevin Durant's injury, Kyrie Irving backlash

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With the Brooklyn Nets’ win at Miami on Sunday, they have won afranchise record 18 of their last 20 games, which represents thebest 20-game stretch at any point in a season in the organization'shistory.

Kyrie Irving is leading the Eastern Conference guards inAll-Star voting, and Kevin Durant is having an MVP-level season,averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

But unfortunately, last night, Durant had to exit the game inthe third quarter after Jimmy Butler fell into Durant. On Mondaymorning, the Nets announced that he was diagnosed with an isolatedMCL sprain of the right knee and that he'll be out for at least thenext two weeks before being reevaluated. It's devastating news forNets fans, as the team has been taking the league by storm for thepast 20 games.

To discuss Durant's injury, Irving's strong play and more, I satdown with Nets great and Basketball News contributor Kenyon Martinto discuss his former team.

Etan Thomas: The Nets are on a great run.They’ve been proving a lot of people who had completely writtenthem off wrong. How do you think they’re playing overall rightnow?

Kenyon Martin: "I think they’ve been playinggreat. Once you get your two stars on the same page in KD and Kyrie— and they’re playing off each other and going to each other whenthe other one is hot and they’re healthy — they are a tough team tobeat. I saw KD went down last night and I’m hearing he may be outfor a few weeks, which definitely hurts, but he’ll bounce back.They’ll just have to hold down the fort until he gets back, andwhen he returns, they’ll take off again just like they did whenKyrie returned.

"And Kyrie is playing as free as I’ve seen him since he was withCleveland in the Finals. It's like he’s playing with no pressureand nothing holding him back from being one of the top guards inthe league. And the team is benefiting from that relief."

Etan: Let me ask you this, because I thinkJacque Vaughn has done an excellent job since he’s taken over, andI don’t think it’s being talked about as much as it should be. Noknock on Steve Nash because I don’t know the ins and outs of why itwasn’t working with him, but there is definitely a visibledifference. Would you agree?

Kenyon: "Let’s be honest, E — Steve Nash is ahell of a basketball player and had great athletes around him. I’venever thought of Steve Nash as a vocal guy, never thought of him asthat kind of a leader. I’ve never heard him get after anybody. I’venever heard him put anybody in their place or call anybody out orchastise anyone who needed to be chastised. I just heard of him asa nice guy who is a great pass-first point guard who guys reallyenjoyed playing with. That’s not to say that he couldn’t have donea good job coaching; I just think it was a little premature to puthim in that position.

"Jacque Vaughn, on the other hand, has proven that he could be ahead coach down in Orlando. He just got a bad deal. But he showedthat he could do all of the things that a head coach needs to do inorder to be successful in this league. He’s not afraid to be honestwith guys, to call guys out or to challenge guys, but still notturn into the enemy. But (he'll) be like, 'We’re in this together,but this is how we have to do things.' He wasn’t a two-time NBAMVP, he wasn’t an All-Star year-in and year-out, but he commanded arespect from the jump."

Etan: That’s very true. One person who hasreally stood out this season is NicClaxton. He won’t get the praise that KD and Kyrie get ofcourse, but he has been doing a tremendous job and is really vitalto this team.

Kenyon: "I’ve been a big fan of his since hegot to the Nets. I love the energy he plays with, his effort, hismotor, his athleticism, his defense, (he's a) rim protector. Andwhen you have a guy who is surrounded by superstars, understandsand embraces his role, and plays it to the best of his ability, theteam is going to be successful, and that’s what he does night-inand night-out."

"He’s a big piece for us and we need himevery night."Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Jacque Vaughn reflect on NicClaxton's impact on the Nets and his development into an everydaystarting center.STORY: https://t.co/U1odBzLCHT pic.twitter.com/v4Meeb8B7V

— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) December 27, 2022

Etan: I always admit I do have big-man bias,and I know the game has transitioned into a more of a guards game —more people play small ball — but I’m surprised players like DwightHoward and (DeMarcus) Boogie Cousins aren’t in the league rightnow. But specifically with the Nets, couldn’t they use them?Especially in the playoffs when they have to face Milwaukee orBoston, or Philly with Joel Embiid and Montrezl Harrell off thebench?

Kenyon: "I’m a big fan of both of those guysand their entire body of work. The way Boogie has adjusted his gameand what people have thought of him over the years, he’s channeledthe energy that people were saying was negative into his game andon-court passion, tenacity and physicality that every teamneeds.

"And what Dwight brings to the table is similar to what we weretalking about before with Nic Claxton. He knows his role and doesit to the best of his ability. Shot-blocker, rebounder, physicalplay, athletic, rim-protector, and we all know he’s strong as hell.Why wouldn’t you want someone like that on your team? (Think about)what the Lakers got out of the combination of him and JaVale(McGee) a couple of years ago."

Etan: Uh huh, when they won thechampionship.

Kenyon: "Yup, I just think more teams shouldfollow that. If you don’t have a dominant Joel Embiid or a dominant(Nikola) Jokic, you need to play by committee at that position. AndI think what a lot of teams are missing is exactly that. I thinkeither one of them could be that missing piece for a lot of teams.But yes, specifically for the Nets this season."

Etan: I even wrote about it. I was surprised,going back to JaVale and Dwight, that the Lakers didn’t keep them.I’m not a GM, but If it ain’t broke and just won you achampionship, don’t fix it, right?

Kenyon: "Who’d they get, Marc Gasol?"

Etan: Yeah, that’s who they got.

Kenyon: "Yeah I just have a problem with theleague as a whole when you have guys that have proven what they canbring to the table, talking about Dwight and Boogie Cousins. Itmakes no sense for them not to be on an NBA roster right now."

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