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Nets’ Kyrie Irving all-in, eyes ‘co-management relationship’

After a season of being off the lineup, then in and out before finally being in it permanently, Kyrie Irving is abruptly eliminated as the Nets were swept out of the playoffs.

However, for this off-season and into next season, Irving said he’s all-in — apparently even as general manager.

The Nets superstar may step down from his contract this offseason, but even if he does, he reiterated he “has no plans to go anywhere.” By tearing up his current pact, he made it sound like the next, longer-term deal would be signed with Brooklyn.

If he turns down the final season of his $36.5 million contract, he would be eligible for a five-year, $246 million contract. Maybe he can say it to himself.

“It’s a co-management relationship,” Irving said of the dynamic between himself, Kevin Durant and the Nets’ front office.

In the moments following the Nets’ 116-112 loss in Game 4 to the Celtics on Monday night, he was more excited about the organization’s future than bemoaning the immediate past.

Kyrie Irving takes a layup during the Nets' Game 4 loss to the Celtics.
Kyrie Irving takes a layup during the Nets’ Game 4 loss to the Celtics.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“It’s added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next several years,” Barclays Center’s Irving said after a season that began with title hopes ended without a playoff win. “I’m just looking forward to the summer when we build here with our boys.”

Presumably next season will not be affected by Irving’s refusal to vaccinate, which kept him from the team until December and did not allow him to play a home game until late last month.

By the time he returned in full, the team had been forced to trade James Harden and faltered, needing a late push just to qualify for the play-in tournament. They didn’t have enough time to gel as a fully gelled Celtics club demonstrated.

Irving, who has only recently turned full-time, suggested that he could be a part-time GM this offseason.

“When I say I’m here with Kev, I think it really means we manage this franchise together with Joe [Tsai, the owner] and Sean [Marks, the GM] and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room and our organization,” Irving said after scoring 20 points on 6 of 13 shots in the Nets’ loss. “I think we just need to take a few steps this off-season and really talk about it and really be aware of what we’re building and have fun with it.”

Irving made no mention of Steve Nash in that core group, although Durant again praised the head coach.

Irving took credit for playing just 29 games in the regular season due to his vaccination stance, but didn’t say he had any regrets.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving may be out of contract this offseason.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“I felt like I let the team down at a point where I couldn’t play anymore,” said Irving, who became the face of protesters opposing the city’s vaccination mandate. “We tried to exhaust every option for me to play, but I never wanted it to be just about me. And I think it became a distraction at times.”

With the distractions gone and Ben Simmons and Joe Harris able to play, the 2022-23 Nets project will be a major threat in the Eastern Conference. But the same goes for every season Durant and Irving have been to Brooklyn, and the projections haven’t lived up to reality.

“We don’t have to look back,” said 30-year-old Irving. “There’s no question of where I’m going and how that’s going to happen. I’m here at 7 [Durant]but I am also here to build a great team.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/26/nets-kyrie-irving-all-in-eyes-co-management-relationship/ Nets’ Kyrie Irving all-in, eyes ‘co-management relationship’

JOE HERNANDEZ

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