Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks made his point with his end-of-season press conference. When asked about extending or re-signing Kyrie Irving for next season, Marks said, “We need people here that want to be here,” and talked about availability.
Marks said he has yet to speak to Irving and his representatives, but he made the same point about fit in an interview Monday on the YES Network, as reported by Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“I look forward to [meeting with Irving],” Marks told YES Network. “We have not had a conversation yet. So I look forward to getting in a room with him and Joe [Tsai, the Nets owner] and his team, and we will. We’ll see what it looks like for Kyrie moving forward here, and what he needs from us and so forth.
“So, again, it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on what hypothetical could happen, because we don’t know. We haven’t had those conversations with Kyrie yet. But when they do, we’ll see if it’s the right fit for both sides.”
“The right fit for both sides” is interesting phrasing. It’s about making a point more than trying to negotiate a better deal — the money isn’t in question because Irving is unquestionably a max player. It’s also not about trades or free agency. Irving will be back with the Nets — he said he doesn’t plan on going anywhere else, and besides Kevin Durant wants him back. This is all about how much Irving the Nets get for their money.
Irving has a player option for $36.9 million for next season, although he’s expected to decline that and look to re-sign as a free agent. The Nets can offer a four-year max of about $190 million — that lines up in years with Durant’s recent extension — or they can offer a five-year, $245 million max.
Marks continues to make clear that he needs more from Irving, who missed the first three months of last season because the All-Star point guard refused to be vaccinated. The season before, he took a couple of weeks off during the middle of the season. Brooklyn needs a better commitment from its players to the regular season — and better luck with health — to build good habits and develop chemistry as a championship contender. The Nets didn’t do that this season while the Celtics did, resulting in a Boston sweep.
A year from now, Brooklyn still wants to be playing, not watching, but they need more Irving to do just that.