Nets Demand Irving’s Commitment

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said his team demanded a real commitment from Kyrie Irving, who next season will serve the final year of a four-year contract he signed in 2019.

Recently, Irving has often revealed to the media that he is ready to negotiate a new contract extension and stay at the Nets.

This season, however, Irving has almost missed all of the Nets’ home games for refusing a COVID-19 vaccination while the New York City Government enforced a vaccine mandate.

Read also: Nash Says Simmons hasn’t played in terms of mental aspects

Marks revealed potential negotiations for Irving’s contract extension in the summer would include an evaluation of his dedication to playing except in a state of injury.

“I think that will be part of the discussion,” said Marks quoted from the NBA’s official website, Thursday (12/5).

“It’s a team sport and you need all the players on the pitch,” he added.

Having everyone on the pitch wasn’t something that marked the Nets’ season, as they finished seventh in the Eastern Conference standings and were eliminated four games straight in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.

The Nets started the 2021-22 season without Irving after deciding they did not want the 30-year-old as a part-timer.

However, in the end, the Nets decided to use Irving’s services in December 2021 only for away games, because New York required public performers to have the status of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The vaccine mandate was revoked by the Mayor of New York, at the end of March, when the Nets were struggling to pave the way to the playoffs via a play-in tournament.

Irving has, on several occasions, stated he would like to extend his contract in the summer to stay at the Nets with Kevin Durant, who has already passed negotiations in 2021.

Marks said it had not yet started negotiations with Irving but the Nets knew very well what they needed.

“We’re looking for players who want to be here and be part of something bigger than themselves, are not selfish, play a team game and can perform,” said Marks.

“And that applies not only to Kyrie but to all the players who are here,” he added.

Irving has the option of accepting the remaining nearly $37 million in his contract next season, but could start negotiations on an extension that would see him earn an additional $185 million for the next four years.

When he is on the pitch, Irving seems worthy of demanding a contract extension, as he is averaging 27.4 points or the eighth-highest of all NBA players this season.

However, Irving achieved it in just 29 games in two consecutive seasons when he was out of action and not through injury. The previous season, Irving also missed nine games for personal reasons.

This time around, Marks highlighted Irving’s absence had added to the burden on Durant and he confirmed the Nets would have long talks after the season ended, including discussing the players’ intentions.

Irving himself never once made it clear why he refused the Covid-19 vaccination, except by stating that it was a personal choice.

“What drives them? Do they want to be a part of this project? Are they motivated by something that might not be good for the whole team?” Marks said.

“So we will reflect on those questions and ask the players we want to bring back into the team.”

In addition to Irving, the Nets also experienced another problem in Ben Simmons, who since arriving via a barter scheme, right on the February transaction deadline from the Philadelphia 76ers did not even take the floor until his new team was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs.

According to Marks, Simmons is feeling better after last week undergoing surgery to reduce pain in his back due to a herniated disc.

In Durant, Irving, and Simmons, the Nets have three stars that could lead them to their goals for the upcoming season, but Marks doesn’t appear to have included Irving as part of the plan, arguing that the player is also faced with a decision to make.

Marks also admitted that he had not spoken to Durant about the possibility of a long-term partnership with Irving, although the two have often positioned themselves as close friends who joined the Nets together in 2019.

He hopes, in the near future, to meet with Durant, Nets owner Joe Tsai, and head coach Steve Nash to discuss the potential of players who will enter a free contract status. (Ant/OL-1)