Report: Nets, Kevin Durant yet to speak as Kyrie Irving extension drama unfolds

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.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Nets GM looks forward to crucial meeting with Kyrie to see if it’s the ‘right fit’

The Brooklyn Nets are fed up with off-the-court drama.

Nets general manager Sean Marks doubled down on this in a taped interview aired over YES Network on Monday, a few days after his end-of-the-season press conference with reporters.

Once the rising star GM for plucking the Nets out of the mud, Marks is taking the flak for acceding power to superstars who have fulfilled their part of the bargain. He is hell-bent on bringing the culture back that he sold to superstars who have yet to deliver a championship for the franchise. Recalibrating their vision would include a total buy-in from their mercurial star guard Kyrie Irving.

“You want people here to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a team sports team game. It’s not individuals,” Marks said. “We want people to be here for the right reasons, and buy into their roles, find their roles, high-character guys.”

“We want to avoid the drama; we want to avoid the distractions. These last couple years here, whether it was expectations set on the team or some of the outside circumstances that were going on in the world, they affected our guys, both individually and as a group, really poorly, unfortunately.”

Irving, who recruited Kevin Durant to come with him in Brooklyn, is in hot water after missing a chunk of games in his first three seasons with the team for personal reasons. His refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine cost the Nets their title window this season as he was only limited to 29 games.

While Irving wants to remain with the Nets, the organization is not too keen to commit right away. Irving’s long-term future with the team remains a big question mark as both parties are at a crossroads.

The 30-year-old Irving has a $36.9 million player option which he could decline to sign a more lucrative, long-term extension with the Nets. He is eligible to extend for up to four years, $183.6 million, which other teams could also offer. But he could earn more with the Nets as they could sign him up to five years, $247.6 million.

“We have not had any conversation yet [about contract extension],” Mark said. “I look forward to getting in a room with him and Joe (Tsai) and his team, and we will. We’ll see what it looks like for Kyrie moving forward here, 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.”

In other words, shape up or get ready to be shipped out.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Bobby Marks: Brooklyn Nets’ big man Jarrett Allen looking for Clint Capela-type of extension

Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Allen

Will the Brooklyn Nets extend or cash in Jarret Allen?

This is one of the biggest questions that Net’s general manager Sean Marks would have to address aside from re-signing Joe Harris and finding the third star to complement the returning Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Allen’s contract extension talks could be tied with the last one as his name constantly pops up in trade rumors.

Conventional wisdom says the Nets would likely play out Allen’s rookie deal and have him as a restricted free agent next year. But that would be tempting Allen to walk away after this season without getting anything in return.

Former Nets’ assistant general manager and now ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks recently weighed in on Allen’s contract situation.

“He’s looking for a Clint Capela-type of money,” Marks said on Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective Podcast.

Capela signed a five-year, $90-million extension deal with the Houston Rockets in 2018 before he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks last season. Capela was 24 at the time of the deal.

“I would think it’s hard for me to extend him to that type of number and the other thing is if you extend these guys, you’re basically off the board for a year because of the poison pill restriction in your contract. So it’s not like he’s tradeable so I think if I’m Brooklyn and if I can get him in that $12-14 million range, I’m looking for a below-market type of deal here,” Marks added.

But would Allen agree to a discount in a reduced role for the next three to four years?


Marks and Windhorst’s ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon chimed in, suggesting that it’s more complicated than it seems.

“The other thing is the strange dynamic with KD and Kyrie’s guy, DeAndre Jordan, as $10-million a year dude, paying him that much to play 18-20 minutes a game. Do they want DeAndre in the starting lineup? You can’t ignore that whole dynamic when you’re making these decisions and obviously, the Nets’ front office isn’t ignoring anything that KD and Kyrie have to say when it comes to making major decisions,” MacMahon said.

The 22-year old Allen was one of the homegrown Nets but could see himself as another casualty of the new order with the team’s championship window arriving.

The markings were on the wall when Irving left him out of their core during a controversial post-game talk early this year.

“Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, [Kevin Durant], DJ, GT, Spence [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we’ll see how that evolves,” Irving said after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in January.

Allen subsequently lost the starting job to Jordan after Kenny Atkinson, his biggest backer, left the team. While Allen has said all the right things since the demotion, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow after showing he’s a capable starter on a playoff team before last season.

Would he want to play as a backup in a championship contender or secure the bag and play as a starter with another team?

Nets owner and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai has no qualms about paying the luxury tax. Still, Bobby Marks, speaking from his experience with former Nets’ owner Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, warned that Sean Marks and the Nets’ front office could be courting trouble if they flame out while being the league’s top taxpayer.

“Here’s the deal with these guys (rich owners). They may be making 20 billion dollars a year and I’ve said this all along. When you’ve got to write a luxury tax cheque, or wire money for $40 or $50 million and you lose in the second round or conference finals, it’s not a pleasant meeting with the ownership. So I don’t care what they’re worth. Nobody wants to spend $50 million on tax,” Marks said.

Earlier, Marks told Empire Sports Media that a Harris deal worth $12 million annually would net the Nets a $50-million tax bill. A lucrative Allen extension would push Tsai to dig deeper into his pocket.

Even with a healthy Durant and Irving, the Nets are not a surefire favorite. They would have to contend in a crowded East with at least five more solid contenders in Miami, Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Boston.

Sean Marks showed his chops as an executive pulling the Nets out of the rabbit hole by extracting value out of nothing.

Now that he’s got something, will he keep it or flip it?

Marks has his work cut out for him.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Will the Knicks hit or miss on Nets’ unrestricted free agent Joe Harris?

Brooklyn Nets, Joe Harris

The Brooklyn Nets and their unrestricted free agent Joe Harris have both maintained they want to stay together.

Sean Marks has openly said that Harris will be the Nets’ No.1 priority in the offseason. Harris has also maintained since February that he intends to re-sign with the Nets and play alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

“Definitely, why wouldn’t you? Obviously, those are guys who I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year,” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”

But it’s easier said than done.

The Nets, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently said in his podcast The Lowe Post, will face stiff competition to retain Harris.

“I have news for the Nets,” Lowe said. “They’re going to have competition for Joe Harris. These teams with cap room all view Joe as a potential very good fit on the floor and a good culture guy.”

Their stiffest competition could come, according to multiple sources, across the river, the New York Knicks.

“Obviously, he’s someone who can spread the floor for RJ (Barrett) and Mitch (Robinson). But he’s so much more than just a spot-up shooter. His locker room presence will be tremendous for the culture they’re building there,” one league source told Empire Sports Media.

An Eastern Conference league executive also believes Harris will definitely command a big contract but he doesn’t see him bolting out of Brooklyn.

“He’s entering the prime years of his career. He will definitely be one of the top free agents at a time when there are no superstars in the market,” the executive told Empire Sports Media.

“But the Nets ownership has been open about their willingness to pay the luxury tax. They have their championship window in front of them. I don’t think they will let him walk,” he added.

Former Nets assistant general manager and current ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks said that Harris would command a substantial offer from teams with cap space. He recently broke down the Harris free agency scenario with the Nets:

“Brooklyn would have only the $5.7 million tax midlevel if Harris does not return. They would also lose a possible future trade asset that cannot be replaced. Harris has already established Bird rights with Brooklyn, meaning that the Nets can pay him up to 30% of the cap (which is very unlikely) and an additional five years.

If the luxury tax comes in at $132.7 million, the Nets would start the offseason $9.9 million over the threshold and with a $15.9 million penalty. A Harris contract starting at $12 million would push the Nets’ tax bill to $49.9 million — a combined $46 million in 2020-21 to retain the 28-year-old.”

In the 2018-19 season, the Thunder paid the highest luxury tax at $61.6 million while the Golden State Warriors were second at $51.5 million. The last time the Nets were over the limit was in the 2014-15 season when they paid $20 million in luxury tax.

The Nets will return to that list of tax paying teams next season in their hopes to retain their core.

They will likely face a bidding war with the Knicks or even the Atlanta Hawks for Harris’ services. Both the Knicks and the Hawks are in rebuilding mode and armed with cap space.

Harris checks all the boxes that the Knicks are looking for.

The former three-point champion was once a reclamation project just like what the Knicks have in their current youngsters. His four-year stay with the Nets and the culture built by GM Sean Marks and their former coach Kenny Atkinson transformed him from a forgotten man into one of the elite role players in the league.

Harris has become a solid three-point threat — 38.5%, 41.9%, 47.4%, and 42.1% in each of his past four seasons with the Nets — and so much more that led to his inclusion in the last Team USA.

New Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about defense, ball movement, efficiency, and three-point shots as the staples that he wants to inject into the team’s DNA.

Harris definitely fits that profile.

The 29-year sharpshooter could come in and show the way for the younger Knicks players how to become a playoff team.

His defensive win share has steadily increased from 0.2 in his rookie year to 1.8 last season. The stocky guard has shown his willingness to play defense and offers a lot of intangibles more than just his outside shooting. His ability to drive to the basket has become the most underrated part of his game. This past season, Harris made half (50.2 percent) of his 6.5 drives per game.

The Knicks can free up to as much as $50 million in cap space this offseason. And with no marquee stars in the NBA free agency, Harris will be up there along with Toronto Raptors’ Fred Van Vleet and Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic on top of the free-agent list among guards.

This is an opportunity for Harris to leverage his position and earn what could be the biggest contract in his career.

Harris’ agent Mark Bartelstein has negotiated Joe Ingles’ four-year $52-million deal in 2017 and a $14 million one-year extension last year to stay with the Utah Jazz. They could be looking for a similar type of contract with the Nets.

The Knicks could dangle more money and a chance to be a catalyst for the franchise’s turnaround. But the Nets’ likely cheaper offer comes with an immediate shot to contend for a ring with Durant and Irving.

Those options will be there for Harris.

Which will he choose?

Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Nets: Does Culture Win Championships?

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

It wasn’t supposed to come to this, but that isn’t a bad thing. 

In a newfound problem for the Brooklyn Nets, that exclusively applies to teams with top-flight talent, a power struggle has emerged within the organization. After a 2018-2019 campaign that saw an 8-18 beginning turn on the back of D’Angelo Russell, the Brooklyn Nets established a culture that made fans forget recent years of despair that was doomed by the infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. 

Culture became a buzzword for the Nets front office and fans as their overachieving 42-40 record offered promise after entering the season with diminished expectations and a self-proclaimed “system” that had produced little in the way of results. 

Caris Levert’s gruesome injury halted his promising start to the season, leaving behind a shattered locker room looking for a leader to step up. Through the wreckage emerged D’Angelo Russell, who along with a bunch of former cast-offs, guided the team through an obstacle-filled season. For this, Russell earned a spot on the Eastern Conference all-star team. 

Developing right next to Russell was his backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, who had proven to be a mismatch nightmare, seeking out big men and delivering the highest point per possession totals in the NBA throughout the season. Also making a rise from the scrap heap was Joe Harris, who developed a well-rounded game to make him a mainstay in lineups to close out games.

This was a welcome sight for coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks, who finally saw results after two tumultuous seasons at the helm. Rather than continuing to accumulate assets in hopes of striking a diamond in the rough, the Nets were suddenly in a position of power, with high-profile stars being linked to them consistently and public perception changing in a very vocal manner around the league. 

The veterans on the team were thorough in their praise of coach Atkinson, citing the system he developed as instrumental in helping the team blend perfectly and play to their strengths at all times. 

The signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Deandre Jordan on June 30 changed the landscape of the league, as the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Nets were catapulted into the top-tier of basketball as a team with the firepower to push through the Eastern conference and go toe to toe with the fearsome superstars of Los Angeles out West. 

Durant and Irving have openly discussed the allure of a solid culture in their decision to come to Brooklyn. Since their signings, however, they have been behind many decisions that indicate their desire to rid the team of their old regime and insert their power in a way that has become customary for superstars around the league. The culture-oriented Nets are now at a crossroads, with each passing decision serving as a reminder that this league is run by superstars. 

When pressured by Durant and Irving, Marks nixed the idea of bringing in Carmelo Anthony, who at the time, had been shunned by all 30 teams in his attempt to make it back onto a roster. Although Marks was able to put his foot down in this instance, the subsequent firing of Kenny Atkinson beckoned the question: does culture win championships, or it is the superstars that do? The relevance of this conflict is an indictment of where the league stands. The players hold all the power

Perhaps Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant understand after seeing Atkinson’s style that he does not possess the qualities of a championship-level coach, and to me, that’s okay. After all, when you have the opportunity to sign two superstars after being mired in mediocrity, you hand them the keys and let them drive the franchise wherever they see fit. 


Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks…Do Your Job!

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

Now, this title isn’t to say by any means that Sean Marks hasn’t done a stellar job since taking on the mantle of the GM of the Brooklyn Nets. From bringing in D’Angelo Russell to his draft choices over the years to being able to attract marquee free agents this summer, Marks has had plenty of room for error yet made very few.

He’s been applauded for what he’s been able to do in one of the toughest positions in the league, if not the toughest, and he’s been applauded for the culture that he was able to build.

That culture was not easy to establish. It was not easy to build. It took a lot of time and effort and dark times to create. Today that culture takes another hit this off-season. First with a new member of the Brooklyn Nets, Wilson Chandler, who was handed a hefty 25 game suspension from the NBA for indulging in PEDs. Let me say that Chandler does claim that he and his doctor did not know the substance was an illegal one.

Now we hear the news that Rodions Kurucs was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. The news was broke from the New York Daily News.

Kurucs allegedly screamed, “I am going to kill myself!” He allegedly put his hand around the woman’s throat and choked her, then forced her to march to his bed.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward allegedly pushed her on the bed, slapped her in the face twice, bit her lip and then picked her up and tossed her on the bed hard enough to hurt her ribs, the sources said.

She also suffered bruising to her ribs and face, according to prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto during the arraignment. Cotto said there are no pictures of her injuries, and noted the then-couple went to Las Vegas the next day.

Now let me say outright, as the details are laid out, this situation is horrific, disgusting, and completely UNACCEPTABLE! Every story has 3 sides. Kurucs’, his girlfriend’s, and the truth, but it’s hard if not impossible to think of any story that can excuse or condone these actions.

What is noteworthy and what I think has been glanced over in all this is what Rodions Kurucs yelled. “I am going to kill myself!” Those are not words without significant weight. That is something serious within itself. I don’t know what caused the argument or what led to the altercation between the two parties, but could Kurucs be suffering from some kind of mental illness or troubles? Could he possibly be suicidal? And possibly how could he have been provoked.

Via Stefan Bondy, the Nets made the following statement concerning Kurucs Saga:

After learning of the allegations against Rodions Kurucs, we notified and are assisting the League Office as they begin the process of gathering more information. The Nets organization takes allegations of this nature with extreme seriousness. While the investigation is underway and as we continue to learn more, we will refrain from commenting further.

Now, on one hand, it is always good not to overreact and be at the mercy of the mob. It’s better to get things right vs to appease the mob for its desire for a public execution.

On the other hand, the lack of response to the Chandler situation may give fans and eyes across the league the wrong idea. Either way, these allegations are BIG. Especially towards a young player who was a fan favorite and had a bright future ahead of him.

I hope the legal system gets things right. I hope the young lady involved is ok, even if it turns out she was the one to ignite this whole thing. Even if she was, doesn’t mean she needs to be harmed physically, just needs to face the law as justice demands. I hope Kurucs gets the help he potentially needs if he is indeed mentally ill. This is a reminder to Nets fans everywhere on humility.

Lastly, Sean Marks, you have tough decisions ahead. I hope you make the right one. It’s hard to imagine him cutting a player so beloved by the fans and his teammates, a player who was such a big part of our success last year, but no amount of talent excuses you from wrongdoing.

So Marks, do your job. Uphold the Culture!


Via The Glue Guys:

Spoke to NYPD, they say Kurucs turned himself into police this morning. Kurds had an attorney with him. Police say Kurucs allegedly choked a 32 year old woman (that the Daily News says was his girlfriend)