When Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant demanded a trade from the franchise on June 30, most expected that would be the story to rule the free agency headlines until the outcome was decided. That assumption was made true, but despite Durant’s request being made public, he ultimately rescinded it and agreed to return the Nets to honor the remainder of his contract.
But before Durant made his trade request in June, the major story coming out of Nets’ land was the future of their starting point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is entering the final year of his deal with the Nets and had a player option where he could elect to test the free agency market. Many thought that there was a real possibility Kyrie would opt out the closer the deadline became. Especially when it became evident the Nets would not offer him the max-contract extension he was seeking.
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Nets GM Looking For Kyrie to ‘Show Commitment’
After refusing to get the vaccine last season, Irving played just 29 games for Brooklyn, which arguably, was the catalyst of their whirlwind 2022 season. But Irving’s absences expand far beyond last season. In his three seasons as a Net, he has yet to reach the 60-game mark, let alone play a full season.
During Nets Media day on September 26, Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters that for Irving to receive the max contract extension he is seeking, he has to prove his commitment to the team.
“He’s committed, and he understands that as he goes into free agency, in order to get what he wants, he’s going to have to show commitment out here,” Marks told reporters via WFAN.
“We’re going to be happy to support him in any possible way throughout the season to make sure he’s healthy and committed and ready to go.”
Marks also added that he was encouraged by what the Nets starting point guard had to say during his Media Day session with reporters.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy that Kyrie is back here,” Marks said per SNY. “Listening to his press conference that he had this morning, my takeaway from that is that he’s committed, and we’re going to see a very determined Kyrie Irving.”
Marks: ‘Unforseen Circumstances’ Nixed Kyrie Extension
Irving will now be an unrestricted free agent next summer. It puts the Nets in dangerous territory, as Brooklyn runs the risk of letting him walk away to join another team and getting nothing in return. Marks told reporters that “unforeseen circumstances” prevented the two sides from reaching an agreement on the terms of a max extension.
“There were a lot of unforeseen circumstances that led up to those contract negotiations with Kyrie at the end of the summer,” Marks said to reporters via WFAN.
“I’ll never get into the actual discussions, but they were very open and honest discussions. We knew what he was looking for, and we obviously couldn’t find a middle ground.”
All eyes will be on Kyrie to see if he can rise to the occasion this season. In a contract year, it will be pivotal for him to do so.