NEW YORK – Kyrie Irving may have to show the Brooklyn Nets he’s more than a great basketball player if he wants a future with the team.
General manager Sean Marks made clear Wednesday that Irving will have to prove a commitment to being available to his team that wasn’t there this season.
After Irving missed almost all the Nets’ home games because he refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, Marks said talks about a potential contract extension this summer will need to include an evaluation of his dedication to play unless he’s injured.
“I think those are going to be discussions,” Marks said. “It’s a team sport and you need everybody out there on the court.”
The Nets rarely had that during a disappointing season that saw an NBA championship favorite finish seventh in the Eastern Conference and get swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round.
They began the season playing without Irving, deciding they didn’t want him to be a part-time player. They eventually brought him back in December to play road games only, with him unable to play in New York because of the city’s mandate requiring vaccination to perform in public venues.
An exception to the mandate made him available for all games in late March, but by then the Nets were climbing out of a huge hole and had to win a play-in game just to reach the postseason.
Irving is eligible for an extension this summer and said he sees himself remaining in Brooklyn alongside Kevin Durant, who signed an extension last summer.
Marks said they haven’t had any contract discussions yet with Irving but said the Nets know what they’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,” Marks said. “And that goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”
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