By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP)-Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving could show she’s more of a good basketball player if she wants a future with the team.
General manager Sean Marks made it clear Wednesday that Irving needs to prove the commitment available to his team that isn’t there this season.
After Irving missed nearly every Nets home game because he refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, Marks said talks about a potential contract extension this summer should include an evaluation of his dedication to playing unless he was injured.
“I think that’s going to be discussions,” Marks said. “It’s a team game and you need everything on the court.”
That’s rare for the Nets to get in a disappointing season that saw an NBA championship favorite finish seventh in the Eastern Conference and sweep the Boston Celtics in the first round.
They started the season playing without Irving, deciding they didn’t want to be a part-time player. They eventually brought him back in December to only play street games – a decision Marks would not doubt – that Irving would not be able to play in New York because of a town order requiring vaccinations to be done in public places.
An exception to the mandate made him available for all games in late March, but then the Nets came out of a big hole and had to win a play-in game just to get to postseason.
Irving is eligible for an extension this summer and said he finds himself staying in Brooklyn with Kevin Durant, who signed an extension last summer.
Marks said they have not yet had a contract discussion with Irving but said the Nets know what they are looking for.
“We’re looking for guys who want to get in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play unselfishly, play basketball on the team and be available,” Marks said. “And that’s not just for Kyrie but for everyone here.”
Irving has an option of nearly $ 37 million next season, but could ask for an extension that would pay him an additional $ 185 million over four years. His game seems to deserve it, as Irving averaged 27.4 points last season, which would have been eighth in the league.
But he only played 29 games in the second consecutive season where he didn’t play when he wasn’t injured. Irving left the team during the 2021-22 season, missing nine games for personal reasons.
This time, Marks admitted that Irving’s absence gave Durant more work. He said the Nets should have in -depth discussions after this season, including about the purpose of their players. Irving never specified why he should not be vaccinated, saying it was a personal choice.
“What motivates them? Do they want to be a part of it? Were they inspired by something that might not be good for the whole team? Mark said. “So those are the questions we need to ask ourselves and also the players we want to bring back here.”
Marks gave good news to Ben Simmons, who he said is feeling fine after back surgery last week to relieve pain from a herniated disc. Simmons no longer played for the Nets after they acquired the former No. 1 pick from Philadelphia in February.
Along with Durant, Irving and Simmons, the Nets have three potential stars who can easily take them to what they think they can do this season. But Marks did not guarantee that Irving would be part of the future, while also announcing that Irving would have his own decisions to make.
He said he has yet to speak to Durant about how the All-Star forward feels about their long-term relationship with Irving. The two were close friends who teamed up in Brooklyn in 2019.
Marks said he expects that at some point he will talk to Durant, owner Joe Tsai and coach Steve Nash about any potential free agents.
“But at the end of the day, I mean more often than not, I make the decisions myself,” Marks says, “and I’m not the one to go to Kevin and say: ‘Do you like this guy? Do you like it? that person? Do you want that person? ‘ I don’t think that’s fair to put that on Kevin.
“Now, was he surprised by anything? Not really, because he already knew what we were doing, what we planned to do, in order to be honest with the entire roster.
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