When the Brooklyn Nets season unceremoniously came to an end two weeks ago it seemed all but certain that Kyrie Irving’s future with the organization was pretty well set. After general manager Sean Marks met with reporters on Wednesday for his end of the year press conference, that didn’t seem as certain anymore.
“I think that’s something we’ve been discussing and we will continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason,” Marks said when asked about the team’s desire to commit to Irving long term. “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.
“To be quite frank, he has some decisions to make on his own, so he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player option and so forth.”
Irving has a player option for next season and it has been widely expected that he will opt out of that. Leading up to the final loss of the Nets playoff series with the Boston Celtics the presumption was that Irving would opt out in hopes of signing a contract extension in Brooklyn.
However, after speaking with reporters for roughly 40 minutes it appeared the Nets may want to see more commitment out of the superstar point guard. Irving played in just 29 games this season due to his stance on not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
First, the Brooklyn Nets organization decided not to allow him to play and then when they relented in late December he appeared in only road games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. It wasn’t until late March when New York City Mayor Eric Adams amended the mandate that Irving joined the team as a full-time player.
Irving has not played a full season for the Nets since joining the organization in 2019.
“Those are the discussions that we’ll have to have with Kyrie in person and take it from there,” Marks responded when asked if the team will need a firm commitment from him to play out a full season. “Those discussions haven’t happened yet. I don’t want to comment on hypotheticals and what may happen, but we’ll wait and see. Hopefully sooner or later we’re having those discussions.”
Kyrie Irving has missed time due to injury, but his absences have also stemmed from issues that aren’t related to the court. His decision to remain unvaccinated created a major headache for the Brooklyn Nets as they dealt with everything from injuries to COVID to a disgruntled James Harden.
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Marks again reiterated his need to have discussions with Irving when broached if he needed to convey that only injury-related absences are acceptable for being away from the team.
“I think those are going to be discussions,” Marks said. “It’s a team sport and you need everybody out there on the court. … Some are avoidable and other excuses are of individual nature and those are the ones that we have to try and avoid. We need people here that want to be here. That are selfless that want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves. There’s a goal, there’s an objective at stake here, and in order to do that we’re going to need availability from everybody.”