NEW YORK – Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks had a clear message for the keeper Kyrie Irving: The long-term future of Star Guard with the organization is uncertain.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the Nets knocked the Boston Celtics out of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last month, Marks acknowledged that Irving’s honorary status on the team over the past year had an impact on Brooklyn’s game. team.
“We need people here who want to be here,” Marks said on Wednesday. “They are selfless, wanting to be a part of something bigger than themselves – and that’s the goal and the goal is at stake here. And to do that, we’re going to need everyone’s availability.”
Marx’s comments came after a turbulent season in which Irving played just 29 games after missing most of the year due to New York’s mandate to vaccinate employees in the city.
Irving, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has stated several times during the season that he will not receive the vaccine, joined the Nets in early January after the organization reversed the course and allowed him to be a part-time team member. After months of standing in public behind Irving, Marx’s acknowledgment that Irving’s decision really hung over the group was significant.
“I think that’s obvious,” Marx said. ‘Whenever you have a key part of your team that isn’t available and you’re trying to build chemistry, you’re trying to build camaraderie in the field, it’s very difficult. And then you have people coming in at certain times. Hey, we’re not gonna have Kyrie around. ‘
“And we’re going to go and keep building and keep playing, and then as you saw the load that was creating not only Kevin [Durant] but our other players, and then you have Joe Harris injury and so on. Then it becomes almost unfair to the players and you ask them to take too much. And yet, the decision was reversed, which was best for the team at the time – but there was no scenario. “
Despite Irving’s brilliant play from time to time – he averaged 27.4 points per game – his in-and-out nature of his availability influenced the chemistry the Nets built at the start of the season. It was also a factor of the former guard James Hardenthe decision to leave the Nets and surrender to the Philadelphia 76ers.
When specifically asked if the Nets were committed to Irving in the long run, Marx was optional.
“Listen, I think that’s something we’ve talked about and we’re going to keep talking and debating about it this offseason,” Marks said. “Honestly, it’s not just Kyrie; you mention Kyrie, but we have to make decisions about a number of different free agents on our roster. We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it would be unfair to comment on what it looks like with us and Kyrie because, to be honest, he has to make some decisions on his own.
So he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player option, and so on. I think we know what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys who want to come here and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Play selflessly, play team basketball and be available – and it’s not just for Kyrie but for everyone here. “
Irving has to decide this offseason if he wants to pick up his playing option worth more than $ 36.5 million for next season. Marx said he would have these face-to-face conversations with Irving over the next few weeks.
For his part, Irving has said several times in recent weeks that he hopes to pair him with Durant in Brooklyn in the years to come.
“When I say I’m here with Kev, I mean it really means we’re running this franchise together,” Irving said after Brooklyn lost in the fourth game at the end of the season to the Celtics last month. “Near [Nets owner] Joe [Tsai] and Sean, just our group of family members in our locker room, in our organization. So it’s not just about me and Kev; I don’t want to work on just that. We are the cornerstone, but we have a few more guys under contract.
“I think we need to make some moves this off-season, really talk about it, and really be intentional about what we’re building and have fun with it, make it enjoyable … There’s no doubt about where I’m going and how this is going to happen “Irving said. “I’m here at 7 [Durant]but I’m also here to build a great team. “
When asked if he had gotten the feeling from Durant that he was still committed to Irving as a longtime key player, Marks declined, saying he could not yet sit down and have detailed conversations about the future as Durant was depressed from the season.
Marx said that “culture is not what it used to be”, admitting that the Nets have taken a step back this season “without a doubt”.
But when asked if he regretted bringing Irving back, Mark said no.
“I don’t want to use those ‘what ifs,'” Marks said. , Kyrie and Kevin will be available. ‘ … To sit down and say, ‘Well, do I regret bringing back a player of his caliber?’ Not.”
Which is brighter for the Nets, Marx said I’m Simmons, which was purchased from the Sixers as part of the Harden blockbuster, feels “great” after back surgery last week. Marks pointed out that the Nets will do everything they can to keep Simmons on the team this summer.
“We will do everything possible to bring him into our group,” Marx said. “That’s the key. He has to be here, re-smell the gym, around his friends, around his family. And to be honest, take part in this and let us together help build culture, build together, build, raise it, rebuild it, because like Steve [Nash] alludes, he is a big, big part of this. Fit a lot of holes, plug a lot of holes we think we potentially have. And with him inside, the dynamics are different outside. “
The dynamics of Irving’s future still hover over everything the organization does. After seeing him miss large parts of games over the past two seasons for personal reasons and deciding not to get vaccinated, Marks spoke as a man who wasn’t sure he wanted to dedicate himself to the 30-year-old team player still not sure he could count on night to night.
“It’s a team sport and you need everyone on the field,” Marx said. “And we’ve seen this year, Kevin has missed 27 games due to injury and Kyrie is away for half the season, it hurts. It hurts from the point of view of making the list. It’s not what we planned. Some can be avoided and other excuses are individual in nature And these are the ones we must try to avoid. “