Entering the 2021-22 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets were the favorites to win the 2022 NBA Finals.
After going 44-38 during the regular season, the Nets were able to claim a playoff spot via the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament, only to get swept by the Boston Celtics in the first-round.
The James Harden experiment did not work out for Brooklyn, as he is now in Philadelphia, and the team has a ton of questions to answer in the offseason not only about newly acquired All-Star Ben Simmons and his availability, but about Kyrie Irving’s long -term future.
Irving, 30, enters the offseason owning a $ 36.9 million player option for next season that he could very well go ahead and decline to become an unrestricted free agent. Opting into this option is the simplest thing for the All-Star guard and the Nets as a whole, but different scenarios could present more money for him.
Brooklyn could offer Irving a five-year, $ 245.6 million max contract should he opt out of his contract, whereas any other team in the league could only offer him a four-year, $ 182 million max contract if he was to become a free agent.
There is always the possibility of Kyrie taking less money to help the Nets build something, but there does not seem to be a clear answer as to if contract talks have progressed at all with the seven-time All-Star.
Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke with the media on Wednesday and gave some updates regarding the end of the year, Ben Simmons’ status moving forward and most importantly, the status of Kyrie Irving’s contract and long-term future with the franchise.
“We need people here that want to be here …. We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play basketball team, and be available,” Marks said. “And that goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”
Brooklyn’s GM also stated that he would like Irving to play more when he is not injured, as availability has been a big problem for the Nets over the last two seasons.
“I think those are going to be discussions,” Marks went on to say. “It’s a team sport and you need everyone out on the court.”
While Kyrie Irving did state that he is not going anywhere and that he wants to remain in Brooklyn following their first-round loss in the playoffs, Marks noted on Wednesday that the team has not discussed a long-term extension with Irving yet and that Kyrie has to decide on his player option first.
“I think that’s been something we’ve been discussing and that’s something we’ll debrief on,” Marks said in regards to extension talks with Irving.
With Kevin Durant still in the midst of his prime and Kyrie Irving also playing great basketball, the Nets know that their time to compete for a championship is now.
The last two years have been ruined due to injuries and lack of accountability within the team’s locker room, but this offseason will be very telling about the future holds for Brooklyn.
Bringing back Kyrie Irving is essential and without him being with the team 100% of the time, it is hard to say that they have what it takes to win a title.
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