There’s trouble brewing in Brooklyn.
The Nets‘ offseason drama took a turn for the worse as a report suggesting the future of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the borough is in doubt emerged Wednesday.
According to a New York Daily News report, “Durant and the Nets front office have not spoken since they were swept out of the first round.”
While it is still early in the offseason, and GM Sean Marks earlier said Durant and the rest of the team are decompressing the turbulent season they’ve been through, there is an added layer to it.
The report added that the Nets are “outright unwilling to give [Irving] a long-term extension.”
It was not surprising as Marks repeatedly hinted at their reluctance to give Durant’s dynamic but enigmatic partner, Irving, the maximum extension worth $247.6 million over five years.
“We know what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball and be available. That goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here,” Marks said during his end-of-season press conference.
Irving’s availability had been an issue since he came ‘home’ to the franchise he grew up rooting for.
Irving only played 103 regular-season games over the last three years. His refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine caused him to miss 53 games. In the 2020-21 season, he missed 18 games, including seven games, due to “family and personal stuff.” A nagging shoulder injury cost him 62 missed games in his first season with the Nets.
Marks’ intention was to set the record straight, but unwittingly, he invited drama to cloud the most crucial offseason for the Nets in the Durant-Irving era.
The posturing has already started ahead of Irving’s next contract negotiation. Marks is banking that Irving will accept whatever the organization is willing to offer — which presumably would include protection from another extended personal leave and wouldn’t include a no-trade clause — due to the scarcity of playoff teams having cap space to outright offer Irving a max extension of $183.6 million over four years.
Given the close relationship of Durant and Irving, the Nets are risking everything they’ve won in the summer of 2019. But they’re also trying to get back the culture they’ve lost since the superstars took over and underdelivered.
Their gamble to shortcut the process didn’t pay off. Now they appear willing to get back to square one and play the long game.
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