Even in the offseason, there doesn’t seem to be any off switch for the drama that follows the Brooklyn Nets around.
In one of the biggest offseasons in recent memory for the organization, the Nets are playing hardball with Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn is unwilling to give Irving a long-term contract extension, according to a report from the New York Daily News.
To make matters worse, the report noted that Kevin Durant and the Nets front office have not spoken since the team had been eliminated from the first round by the Boston Celtics. To say the least, that isn’t the distraction-free offseason that general manager Sean Marks had hoped for during his final media availability of the season earlier this month.
All of this, according to the report. could set up for the dangerous prospect of one or possibly even both of the Nets superstars leaving Kings County. Either scenario would be a devastating blow to the Nets, who had hoped to be competing for an NBA title this year.
The Nets appeared to be taking a stand during the May 11 press conference at the team’s Sunset park practice facility. Marks seemed to take a more cautious approach when discussing Irving’s future with the Nets.
“I think that’s something we’ve been discussing and we will continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason,” Marks said at the time. “Honestly it’s not just Kyrie. We have decisions to make on a variety of different free agents throughout our roster. We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it would unfair for me to comment on how it looks with us and Kyrie.”
Irving has not played a full season for the Nets since he arrived and caused a stir by not getting the COVID vaccine forcing him to miss a third of the season. Personal reasons in years past have also taken him away from the Nets, and even when he did return this season he was only eligible to play in road games until New York City lifted the vaccine mandate for athletes at the end of March.
The questions around Irving’s commitment to playing have seemed to cause enough concern for the Nets to take their current posture. Irving does have a player option that he needs to decide on for next season, but the team feels that they have the leverage over Irving, according to the report.
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Irving’s options are limited if he becomes a free agent, but the possibility of it isn’t impossible and the Nets would be hamstrung by their ability to replace him if he did decide to leave. That would leave Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons to try and lead the Nets to the promised land.
Or worse, that could be Kevin Durant’s signal to exit stage left and go elsewhere to play. None of which would be good for the Nets.