Kyrie Irving describes chaotic offseason as he and Nets look to turn page

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Kyrie Irving Nets
Kyrie Irving speaks to the media on Nets media day i Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: Christian Arnold

Kyrie Irving had remained largely quiet over the offseason after he opted into the final year of his contract with the Nets, but during Monday’s media day at the team’s practice facility in downtown Brooklyn he lamented how they were eliminated from the playoffs and called the offseason a “clusterf–k.”

Irving had been the center of attention when the offseason began and questions swirled about his future with the organization, but that ended up being just the tip of the iceberg. Irving opted in his contract only to see Kevin Durant request a trade days later. 

“It was just a lot,” Irving said. “Like hearing Kev wanted a trade request, I opt-in. It’s awkward. Very awkward. I’m sitting at home like, I don’t know what to think of it, but because there’s a trust that we have within each other I ultimately just want to see him do well and be happy.”

He added: “There’s a big timeline. A lot of days in the summer where the offseason has taken its own emotions and courses and thoughts on what’s going to happen.” 

The Nets point guard said that he respected Durant’s decision to make the request and agreed with the culture changes that he had been calling for. The two have been linked with one another since the two arrived in Brooklyn in 2019. 

Irving referred to Durant as his best friend and said that he was shocked when he had heard news of the request.

“Being in the middle of it is kind of like a clusterf–k,” Irving said. “All of this. All the stories that we come up with. All the narratives surrounding this team that it’s hard to answer every single question you have about us and what our team is. … I honor what Kev had going on and I was wishing him the best, but this was the best opportunity for him and that’s the best opportunity for me and we feel good. It’s not just about us it’s about how great we are as teammates and our team.”

Nets Kyrie Irving Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving talk to one another during Nets media day at HSS Training Center in Brooklyn.Photo Credit: Christian Arnold

Irving had initially been the focus of the offseason drama as he and the Nets tried to figure out his future with the team. He said that there had been some conversations about a contract extension at the end of the year, but things didn’t end up working out.

Irving said that he understood the points the Nets had been making and respected them, but he didn’t like how his vaccination status became an issue. 

“I didn’t appreciate how me being unvaccinated all of a sudden became to be a stigma within my career,” Irving said. “I don’t want to play or I’m willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless. … There was a level of uncertainty what this was going to look like with me coming back and I had questions. They were answered truthfully and that’s all I needed.” 

The star point guard then indicated that part of the issue had come from a choice he had to make. 

“I gave up four years, $100 something million deciding to be unvaccinated,” Irving said. “That was the decision. It was contract get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty of your future. Whether you’re going to be in this league. Whether you’re going to be on this team, so I had to deal with that.” 

Nets general manager Sean Marks refuted the notion that the Nets had given Irving an ultimatum of getting vaccinated and getting a new contract or remain unvaxxed and your future is uncertain. 

“It didn’t get to here’s the deal now we take it back. That never happened,” Marks said.

Prior to Irving opting into his final year, reports had swirled that Irving was going to try and work out a sign and trade or that he would sign elsewhere for the league minimum. He did admit that there was a moment that he could have seen himself leaving Brooklyn. 

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Irving said that there were options, but not as many as one would have imagined. 

“There were options, but not many, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “Because again this stigma of whether or not I want to play. Whether or not I’m going to be committed to the team, which I thought was really unfair at times, but also the timing was ideal to be able to put that on me because I wasn’t available. Now that I’m here and present at media day and not on Zoom call, and I can take pictures. Be with my teammates and connect to everybody it feels even better. It’s an exciting time to be in this environment and being able to move past what we did last year and the years prior.” 

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