Speaking publicly for the first time since the Nets were knocked out by the Eastern Conference quarter-finals by the Boston Celtics last month, Marks acknowledged that Irving’s part-time status with the team over the past year had an impact on Brooklyn’s playing, and GM was also non-committal regarding Irving’s potential future with the team.
“We need people here who want to be here,” Marks said on Wednesday. “They’re selfless, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves – and there’s a purpose and there’s a purpose at stake here. And in order to do that, we’ll need availability from everyone.”
Marks’ comments came after a tumultuous season in which Irving played just 29 games after missing most of the year due to New York City’s mandate to vaccinate inner-city staff.
Irving, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has stated multiple times throughout the season that he will not get the vaccine, joined the Nets in early January after the organization reversed course and allowed him to be a part-time member of the team. After months of publicly standing behind Irving, Marks’ admission that Irving’s decision actually hung on the set was remarkable.
“I think it’s obvious,” said Marx. “When you have a core part of your team that is not available and you try to build harmony, you try to build camaraderie on the field, that is very difficult. And then you have people coming in at certain times of the season. We made what we felt was the right decision at that particular time to say , “Hey, we won’t have Kyrie around.”
“And we’ll go ahead and keep building and keep playing, and then as I saw the burden he was putting on Kevin [Durant] But our other players, and then you have the Joe Harris injury and so on. Then it becomes unfair to the players and you are asking them to put up with too much. Then again, the decision was modified, what was best for the team, at that particular time – but there was no script.”
Despite Irving playing impressive at times – averaging 27.4 points per game – the nature of his indoor and outdoor availability had an impact on the chemistry the Nets built early in the season. This was also a factor in former goalkeeper James Harden’s decision to leave the net and take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
When asked specifically if the Nets were committed to Irving in the long term, Marks was noncommittal.
“Look, I think this is something we’ve been discussing and we’ll continue to debrief and discuss throughout this season,” Marks said. “Honestly, it’s not just about Kyrie; I brought in Kyrie, but we have decisions to make on a variety of different free agents throughout our roster. We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it would be unfair for me to comment on how it looks like It’s with us and Kyrie because, to be totally honest, he has some decisions he has to make on his own.
“So he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player choice, and so forth. I think we know what we’re looking for. We’re looking for players who want to come here to be part of something bigger than themselves. Play selfless, play basketball for the team and be available – And that doesn’t just apply to Kyrie but to everyone here.”
Irving will have to decide this off season if he wants to pick his player option worth over $36.5 million for next season. Marks said he will have these face-to-face conversations with Irving over the next few weeks.
For his part, Irving has said several times in recent weeks that he hopes to be paired with Durant in Brooklyn for years to come.
“When I say I’m here with how, I think that really entails managing this franchise together,” Irving said after Brooklyn’s team lost its fourth game at the end of the season to the Celtics last month. “side by side [Nets owner] Atmosphere [Tsai] And Shawn, just our family group in our locker room, in our establishment. So it’s not just about me and how. I just don’t want to do that. We are cornerstones, but we have a few other contracted players.
“I think we just have to do some off-season moves, really talk about it, be really intentional about what we build and have fun with, and make fun of. … I’m going and how that’s going to happen,” Irving said. [Durant]But I’m also here to build a great team.”
When asked if he’s gotten a sense from Durant that he remains committed to Irving as a long-term institutional player, Marks objected, saying he hasn’t been able to sit down and have in-depth conversations about the future so far as Durant. Decompress from the season.
“The culture isn’t what it used to be,” Marks said, acknowledging that the nets took a step back this season “without a doubt”.
But when asked if he had any regrets about bringing Irving back, Mark said he had no regrets.
“I don’t want to use what if,” Marx said. “I think when you have a player of Kerry’s caliber, you try to figure out how do we get him into the mix and how long can we get him into the mix, because the team is built around saying, ‘OK, Kerry and Kevin are going to be available. … for me to sit And I go, “Well, do I regret the return of a player of his caliber?” No.
On a brighter note to the Nets, Marks said Ben Simmons, who was acquired from the Sixers as part of Harden’s blockbuster trade, is feeling “cool” after back surgery last week. Marks made a point to say the Nets will do everything they can to keep Simmons around the team this summer.
“We’ll do everything we can to make it go around our group,” Marks said. “That’s the key. He has to be here, smelling the gym again, around his friends, around his family. And to be totally honest, and share this, let’s help build the culture together, build together, build on it, build it back up, because like Steve [Nash] Hint, he’s a big, big part of this. It fits a lot of holes, and it plugs in a lot of the holes we think we likely have. And with him there, there’s a different dynamic there.”
Irving’s future dynamic continues to hover above everything the organization does. After seeing him miss large parts of matches over the past two seasons for personal reasons and the decision not to get vaccinated, Marks spoke like a man he wasn’t sure he wanted to commit to with a 30-year-old on the squad. Still not sure he can count on night to night.
“It’s a team sport, and you need everyone on the court,” Marks said. “And we saw this year, Kevin missed 27 games due to injuries, Kerry out half the season, that hurts. It hurts from a roster building point of view. It’s not what we planned for. Some are avoidable, other excuses are individual nature. And those are the things that have to We try to avoid it.”