It is no secret that the Brooklyn Nets are interested in signing Kyrie Irving. But one way they hoped to attract him may be more surprising.
Memphis radio host Chris Vernon shared an interesting angle on his latest podcast appearance (via The Ringer):
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this. Brooklyn is all over the Kyrie thing. All over it. They want Kyrie badly. And I think that has been a plan for some time. And I think you saw with that trade when they moved the multiple draft picks and they’re clearing out space. The reason that everybody is reporting that is because that is true. I know at one point, they had even reached out — on a small level — interested in Mike Miller’s [services]. He’s an assistant coach at the University of Memphis for Penny Hardaway. He is also extremelely close friends with Kyrie Irving … They are close, close, close.”
Miller and Irving were teammates for just one season on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Vernon compared it to when you bring someone on the staff to help with college basketball recruiting. He also mentioned that Irving and Miller are both tied to the underwear company PSD.
One fascinating development: another person tied to the brand is Jimmy Butler. Now that Kevin Durant will likely miss all of next season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Philadelphia 76ers star is perhaps the next-best, win-now, realistic fit for Brooklyn to sign this offseason.
Regardless, the interest that the Nets may have in Miller due to his apparent connection with Irving is one that dates back to Irving’s first season when he was on the same team as LeBron James.
Here is what Miller told Jonathan Abrams back in December 2014 (via Grantland):
“What I do is, I understand people. I understand what they’re going through. For some reason, I’m always in a good mood. It’s a blessing for me. I understand it’s a team sport and if there’s going to be individuals inside it, how do I relate to every one of those players differently? The way I do stuff with LeBron during a game is completely different than what I’m going to do with Kyrie. … What I really am is a friend first. I like to be cool with people. Like Kyrie — that’s my guy. He’s a great kid, unbelievable point guard. I think I can help him be better. Not a better basketball player. Just understanding things.”
Vernon made it clear that he does not think Miller would leave Memphis to work for the Nets. He also seemed to think he would more likely be in their front office than as an assistant coach.
Brooklyn, however, would have several coaching opportunities potentially available to offer Miller. For example, player development coach Pablo Prigioni recently left the Nets to become an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves and G League head coach Will Weaver left to become the head coach of the Sydney Kings in the NBL.