But according to a source close to the situation, he wasn’t getting too big for his britches. Kyrie was merely stating established fact within the organization.
“When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, ‘I’ll come and I’ll bring Kevin Durant,'” the source told Heavy.com. “And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions.
“It’s not uncommon at all for general managers to talk to their top players about possible trades and free agents. That’s just smart. You’re paying your guy big money, and you want him to be on board. Plus, your guy might have another view of a situation or a player that you haven’t considered. But with Kyrie, they talked this out beforehand. He wanted a situation like LeBron has — or like he thinks LeBron has.”
So Irving met the media following Brooklyn’s Game 4 loss to Boston and, among other thoughts, dropped this: “When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe (Tsai, Nets owner) and Sean (Marks, the GM).”
Kyrie had a $36.9 million player option for next season, so he’s holding a few cards these days. But when you consider that, because of injuries and his anti-vaccination stance, he’s played in just 103 of 126 regular season games since joining the Nets, those cards aren’t quite the straight flush they used to be. That said, there will certainly be teams willing to pay big for his services.
Marks flexed a bit of authority Wednesday when discussing Irving’s future with reporters.
“We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it’d be unfair for me to comment on how it looks with us and Kyrie, because, to be quite frank, he has some decisions to make on his own,” Marks said. “So he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player option and so forth with that. But I think we know what we’re looking for. You know, 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. And that goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”
The Nets had generally tread lightly around any Irving matters, so these remarks stood out.
“I wonder how that’s going to sit with Kyrie,” a league exec said. “You never know with him. Remember, he was saying out loud how he was committed to re-signing with Boston before he changed his mind and went to Brooklyn with KD.
“But even if he’s pissed about this, could he really do anything about it? It’d be hard to see him turning away from KD after he basically sold him on Brooklyn.”
While Irving can he a free agent, Durant has four years left at a total of nearly $198 million.
With all this and the Ben Simmons situation, there could be more action in the Nets’ summer than in their uneasy 2021-22 season.
D’Antoni to Charlotte?
According to three league sources, the leader for the Hornets’ coaching job is Mike D’Antoni.
“I don’t think it’s a done deal or anything, but I know they like the idea of what he can do with LaMelo (Ball) and their running game,” said a source close to the matter. “If D’Antoni can get those guys on his wavelength, that’s going to be an even more fun team to watch.”
But there remain some roster issues, primarily a lack of high-quality size. And word from around the league is that the Hornets would like to get away from the oft-injured Gordon Hayward’s contract, which has two years at $30 million and $31.5 million remaining.
“I know Gordon’s situation has been super frustrating,” said one exec. “He’s such an important player when he’s healthy. He’s talented and he plays the right way. But him staying healthy is a big if.”
Said another, “At this stage of his career after all the injuries, he’s a good player. He’s a nice player. But he’s not a transformative player, and he’s being paid like he is, and that’s troubling.”
Kings Owner (Finally) Takes a Back Seat
We mentioned here recently that Sacramento was down to Mark Jackson and Mike Brown for its coaching opening, with owner Vivek Ranadive wanting Jackson. The club then announced Monday that the latter would be getting the job, and it was indicated to Heavy that, after he’d made some shaky decisions pretty much on his own, Ranadive chose to listen to his basketball people — in particular, assistant GM Wes Wilcox.
The Kings have amassed some significant talent, but the franchise is badly in need of a giant step into real playoff contention.