Donnie Nelson: “We have daily conversations with pretty much everyone in the league and you’re always talking about the possibility. That’s kind of our job. There isn’t a single person that doesn’t come up in a discussion during the course of the season. So again, you’re always weighing those and measuring those opportunities. When something comes up you have to take a peak at it and if something comes up, one thing Mark Cuban isn’t is trigger shy.”
December 17, 2017 | 12:19 pm EST Update
Irving, on the other hand, had just played through three trying seasons as the young star of the then-moribund Cavaliers. He had a simple wish. “I can still remember Kyrie telling me, ‘I want to come to the game and be happy, and I don’t feel that way,’ ” Blatt said last week, relating that old conversation. “It tells you the importance of feeling this way to Ky. He wants to be happy, and I think that’s working for him now.”
Blatt was moved by Irving’s nerve. “The first thing that hit me about it was that Kyrie made a very profound statement about himself when he requested a trade,” Blatt said. “It’s a situation that hasn’t been easily interpreted by everyone. It was brave, and it’s one of those things that makes him a special kid.”
That fulfillment, according to Blatt, will come from Irving’s emergence as the top gun on a legitimate contender. “Ky is (now) the top dog, top of the totem pole, and he’s reveling in that,” he said. “Also incredible is the fact that he’s playing in a winning program. It’s up to him to do whatever it takes from here. This is where his potential is really going to come out, with the responsibilities of the team.”
Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas can’t wait to make their home debuts as Nets on Sunday against the Pacers. Coach Kenny Atkinson can’t wait to get the newcomers up to speed on defense and in sync on offense — even if that means tweaking the attack and growing Okafor’s game.