Kyrie Irving, Nets GM Sean Marks is yet to discuss a contract

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the team has yet to have discussions with Kyrie Irving about the Mercurial Star Guard contract, adding they are seeing if staying together is “the right thing”.

Marks met with the media last week and also recorded an interview that aired Monday on YES Network. He addressed Irving’s $36.9 million player option for next season and the fact that the All-Star can make a long-term commitment to the Nets, become a free agent next year, or even hit free agency this summer, if he so desires.

Talks between Irving, Marks and Nets owner Joe Tsai are yet to take place.

“I’m looking forward to [it]’ Marks told YES Network. “We haven’t had a conversation yet. So I’m looking forward to getting in a room with him and Joe and his team and we will. We’ll see how it looks for Kyrie to progress here and what he needs from us and whatnot.

“So again, it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on what could hypothetically happen because we don’t know. We haven’t had these conversations with Kyrie yet. But if they do, we’ll see if it’s the right thing for both sides.”

Irving has been omnipresent since the start of the 2021/22 season, even if he was nowhere to be found on the pitch. It’s a growing concern not only between Irving and the Nets, but also between the NBA and its stars like Irving, Ben Simmons and James Harden.

Kyrie Irving

The refusal to comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates essentially cost Irving 53 games and likely contributed to the Nets’ early exit from the playoffs.

“They want the people here to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a team sport team game. They’re not individuals,” Marks said. “We want people to be here for the right reasons and to get into their roles, find their roles, guys with character.

“We want to avoid the drama, we want to avoid the distractions. These last couple of years here, whether it was the expectations of the team or some of the external circumstances that were going on in the world, it has sadly impacted our boys – both individually and as a group – very badly.”

The problem is the drama and distractions are just part and parcel of Irving’s work. He has missed 123 of 226 regular-season games since signing with the Nets in July 2019, from shoulder surgery to the furlough to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

But what does this mean for the networks?

Irving could get out and leave. He’s eligible for a four-year, $182.1 million contract elsewhere, per Spotrac. But the Pistons, Magic, Pacers, Spurs, Trailblazers and Thunder are the only teams with enough cap space, making an exit from Irving unlikely.

And considering he’d be leaving as much as $63.5 million on the table if he leaves, a sign-and-trade seems just as unlikely. A return to Brooklyn seems like a fait accompli.

If Irving opts out, he would be eligible for a four-year extension for $189.7 million or even a five-year extension for $245.6 million, with only the Nets able to offer him the fifth year. If he exercises his option, he could draw in either three- or four-year extensions, which are picked up in 2023-24, but that would require more than $5 million on the table next season.

Expect networks to try to protect themselves, either with a shorter deal or with built-in incentives. Irving’s current four-year, $136 million contract includes a total of $4.3 million in incentives per Spotrac, with $3 million of those so-called “unlikely bonuses.”

Sean Marks
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

It’s likely the networks would try to make a bigger part of the deal out of these unlikely bonuses. Even with Irving and the Players’ Association pushing back, star skipping is a trend the NBA hopes to address in its next contract.

“More concerning for me is the trend of star players not participating in all games. We need to tackle this together with the players’ association,” commissioner Adam Silver said last month.

“There was no banging on the table or anything like that. From my discussions with the players, they know it’s also a problem.” Kyrie Irving, Nets GM Sean Marks is yet to discuss a contract


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