Kyrie Irving is entering free agency with the mindset that he wants to help the Nets and close friend Kevin Durant win a title next season.
However, GM Sean Marks said that the Nets hadn’t decided on extending Irving’s contract should he opt out of his player option for the 2022-23 season and look to negotiate a long-term extension. Marks reiterated that he made a mistake predicting they could successfully negotiate a long-term deal with Irving and James Harden.
“That’s something that we’ve been discussing, and we’ll continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason … we haven’t had any of those discussions yet,” Marks said. “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 everybody here.”
The writing already seemed to be on the wall after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Nets had already made a decision they didn’t want to sign Irving to a long-term extension due to Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when New York first declared New Yorkers couldn’t work or be in private indoor venues without being vaccinated.
The refusal led to Marks saying the Nets wouldn’t be allowed to be around the team until he is “eligible to be a full participant.” A stance they turned back on in December as the Nets, and the NBA faced a month-long COVID-19 outbreak across the League.
“We’re not looking for partners that are going to be half-time,” Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters in October.
“He was willing to sacrifice, at the end of the day, 16 million dollars in salary this upcoming year and 186 million dollars, as far as an extension, that he will not be offered now.”
— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) October 13, 2021
Without Irving in the lineup for much of the season, Marks said “it’s obvious” that Irving’s absence played a significant factor in Brooklyn finishing the season at 44-38, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Nets won their play-tin tournament game with Cavaliers but were swept by the Celtics in the first round.
Irving averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.4 rebounds in 29 games this season.