During that tough (to watch) first quarter, James Harden and DeAndre Jordan got into (as Ryan Ruocco so eloquently put it) an “animated” conversation on the bench, likely about defensive rotations. “I don’t even remember it. We talk so much during the game,” said DeAndre when questioned about this specific moment during the post-game presser. “But yeah, we have conversations about defense, offense, spacing, communication. Whatever we’re talking about is for the success of our team.”
As an aside, I’m not going to try to guess as to why Irving left the club prior to their Jan. 7 game against the Sixers. Various reports have stated that he was upset over the riots at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. However, those familiar with Irving’s thinking said that the news that the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t be facing any criminal charges factored into his absence. That event, more so than the riots at the Capitol Building, contributed to Irving being away from the club, those people say.
“I think Ky is working really hard mentally to put himself in a great position to perform,” Nash said. “I’m proud of him for the effort he’s making there.”
Irving’s return is an opportunity to show he can adapt his game as a scorer off the ball and dispel any questions about his commitment to his teammates and basketball from outside the organization. “The thing that is pretty interesting in watching when you take a break from everything is there are just so many assumptions about what’s going on, and so manypeople feel like they know me best,” Irving said. “They have no idea who I am, or what I’m about, or what I stand for, or even attempt to take the time, or even for me to invite them to take the time, so it’s a two-way street. When things become overwhelming in life, you’ve just got to take a step back and realize what’s important. I love to play. It’s never been a question. I’ve committed myself when this wasn’t even a thing for me. I didn’t really care about media. I didn’t really care about the fandom. All I cared about was just the ethics of the game and being taught the fundamentals.”
Malika Andrews: Sean Marks said that signing James Harden wasn't directly related to Kyrie Irving's absence. Marks said that he has spoken to Irving and the guard is "excited" to get back on the court, but Marks reiterates the timeline will be impacted by the NBA's investigation.
Vincent Goodwill: I talked to someone earlier today, an executive who knows people who are really close to Kyrie. He told me, "Kyrie is acting like he did his last year in Boston. Where he wasn't he's not talking to guys." He's not necessarily disassociated, but there's a disconnect between himself and his teammates.
Chris Haynes: (The Nets) have not issued a fine, a suspension, basically going AWOL, which leads me to believe that they know something, obviously. And whatever that something is, could be serious. That's why they're not taking any type of penalize steps. So with that being said, I want to wait a little bit. I want to wait to see but it doesn't look good.
Over the last couple days, sources around the league – and talking heads – have all wondered about the possibility of Irving retiring. The bar had been set so low that Durant simply wanting to play and loving basketball was worthy of praise. And the Nets still have to figure out whether Irving is fully invested. After all, as sources confirmed, they’re still upset at his recent actions — including going to a family party in the pandemic. Harden, a model of consistency and durability, still needs to get in better shape, too. He looked like he'd stop trying in Houston, so hopefully this move will reinvigorate him as a superstar scorer and more dependable option — simply by showing up to work. He’s also hungry to finally win a title and join Durant and Irving with a ring.
“I hate to continue with this thread, but I’m not really going to comment on either, the details of the rumors or Kyrie’s situation. I don’t know that it gets us anywhere today. Apologies. Sorry,” said Nash, who also passed on a question about trying to fit high-usage stars like Irving, Harden and Kevin Durant together. “That’s a great hypothetical. We can address that another time. But I haven’t had an opportunity to know any new details about Kyrie’s situation. So I’ll just rely on the front office to learn more as we go. They’re the ones that are going to do the messaging on that front.”
In Wednesday’s edition of First Take, Smith said that the 28-year-old Irving should retire from the NBA. Smith said: “No, he’s not. He’s not worth it at all. As a matter of fact, let me say this straight up and down, I think Kyrie Irving should retire. I think he should announce his retirement today. Clearly you don’t want to play basketball bad enough. Now, you may still want to get the $33.4 million … Kyrie Irving has not prioritized basketball. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to play all together. I’m saying he hasn’t prioritized it. How fair is that to the Brooklyn Nets? How fair is that to Sean Marks? How fair is that to Steve Nash? A coached that he endorsed bringing onboard. A coach that he wanted. A coach that he fully supported. How fair is that to his brother, Kevin Durant?”
There are dozens of reporters calling everybody they can think of, trying to get to the bottom of this. It appears few people inside the NBA know what’s going on with Irving, and the few who probably do (like, Nets officials) aren’t saying. There is real concern throughout the league from people who know him.
It was the latest case of bad optics for Irving, who has missed the last four games and counting due to “personal reasons.” The Brooklyn Nets are upset with their franchise point guard over his recent actions, league sources confirmed. Irving remains out indefinitely.
One NBA agent summed up the latest Kyrie Irving saga this way: “It's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.” And for this league, that's saying something.
Marc Stein: The NBA has formally opened a review of videos that appear to show the Nets' Kyrie Irving at a recent party without a mask If Irving misses any games due to what is ruled a protocols violation, he would be subject to a fine of more than $460,000 per game ... 1/72 of his salary
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Malika_Andrews: As the NBA is expected to begin examining online videos circulating of a maskless Kyrie Irving at a family birthday party, there’s no belief that he will return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup this week.
In the videos -- which began being widely shared Monday night -- a smiling Irving is dancing with his sister Asia on a confetti-covered floor and clapping as she blows out candles. If the video is found to be recent, that behavior could be a breach of the league's coronavirus protocols. The league's COVID-19 guidelines forbid players from going to clubs, bars and lounges. They also ban attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.
“Ky is still on personal leave. All the communication between Ky and the organization I’m going to keep private and I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point,” Nash said of Irving, who is fourth in the league in scoring (27.1).
Joe Vardon: Kyrie Irving is not expected to join the Nets on their flight to Memphis tonight, per a source. ‘He’s not coming’ is what I was told. BKN plays the Grizzlies Friday @The Athletic
"I'm not going to be petty, but there's been a lot of things said about what I bring to the locker room" Nets guard Kyrie Irving says he has a great relationship with his teammates
"I'm there every day. There has been no issues [with Kyrie]. ... This group has embraced Kyrie, Kyrie has embraced them." — @sarahkustok
Earlier this week, ESPN published a story about Irving, Durant and DeAndre Jordan joining the Nets that reported the team is already concerned over Irving’s moodiness, including an episode in which Irving was quiet and withdrawn while the Nets were in China. Sources close to Irving expressed frustration with the report, especially since he is trying to not make the focus this season about what he says and does when he isn’t on the court.
You want to know Kyrie Irving’s reaction to an ESPN article on his mood swings, and how they’ve left the Nets “queasy?” The star guard doesn’t. Doesn’t give a damn what ESPN or The Post or anybody else writes or thinks or says. He’s going to do him. “Human beings have mood swings. You go home and you’re not happy with things or mad about something, that’s a mood swing. It’s OK to be human,” Irving said Wednesday night. “I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public so I’m not here to dispel any perception. I’m just here to be myself.”
It came two days after an ESPN article detailing his mood swings and the worries they are causing the Nets. Coach Kenny Atkinson vehemently denied the article Tuesday at practice and again before Wednesday night’s game. “No, that thing is two things. I’ll double-down, or triple-down on what I said. That’s where I am,” said Atkinson, who added he didn’t feel the need to address Irving about the story. “As far as that, I know all these elite players, not just Kyrie, they’re used to the scrutiny and that’s just part of the business. That’s just what it is. I didn’t feel the need to talk to him about it.”
Asked by Mina Kimes Wednesday about whether Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson were committed to integrating the two into the Nets culture, MacMullan replied that Marks has a great luxury going forward ... one Atkinson may not have. “Well, I think Sean is determined to do it. You know for him it’s all about communications and trust and that’s what they built their team on. And he’s going to keep plowing away at it. You know Kenny doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t have time, right? He’s gotta win games. He’s gotta get these guys on the same page.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Williams, speaking with Max Kellerman, said he’d spoken with Marks and that the Nets GM had confirmed one of the key incidents MacMullan mentioned in her story: that Irving had declined to take off his (Nets) cap during a photo shoot atop the Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai. “He did not want to take his hat off,” said Williams. “He did ask them to photoshop that. Bottom line for the ESPN commentator? “Look on the big scale of things, I think this is not a concern. All the players and the team seem to be on same page.”
Kevin Durant has no regrets about joining the Nets, even in the wake of a controversial report that said his pal Kyrie Irving’s “mood swings” are causing Nets officials agita. “Relax mcnabb,” Durant tweeted Tuesday when former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb mused, “with everything starting to come out with [Kyrie Irving] and the [Nets], when will [Durant] realize maybe I should’ve stayed in Golden State? Boy I’ve seen this happen before.”
Jordan, Irving's close friend, had a lighthearted response when asked about the report. "Kyrie's a bad guy, he's terrible, he's moody, I don't like to be around him," he said, facetiously. Jordan later added: "I feel like we're all competitive, everybody in the world goes through mood swings. It's a part of life and human nature. I just don't think it should be targeted at one person …. It's not affecting our team. I think Kyrie's a great guy, I don't think Kyrie's done anything negative. Anything that I've seen that he's done. And he's a friend of mine. So if he was, I would tell him."
Following Tuesday’s practice, Jordan also had Irving’s back. “I think that Kyrie’s a great guy,” Jordan told reporters. “I don’t think that there’s anything negative that I’ve seen that he’s done. And he’s a friend of mine, so if it was, I would tell him.”
James Herbert: DeAndre, sarcastically: "Kyrie’s a bad guy. He’s terrible. He’s moody. I don’t like to be around him. He’s horrible in the locker room. He’s a selfish player. I don’t like his haircut. I wear his shoes only because they’re comfortable and because he makes me. Is that good?"
Ian Begley: Spencer Dinwiddie was asked about ESPN’s Nets story that stated Kyrie Irving’s mood swings are an unspoken concern among team officials. He said Irving has been great as a teammate and anyone who has those issues should address Irving directly.
There were endless conversations about basketball, including how LeBron James had orchestrated his own "friend group" in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that yielded two titles. One of the final nights on the Silver Cloud, as Ky, KD and DJ clinked glasses, Jordan recalls Irving saying, "Hey, this would be cool to do for real." "I asked him, 'What you mean by that?'" Jordan says, "and Ky said, 'Let's all get on the same team and play together.'"
All three initially raised an eyebrow upon learning of Brooklyn's daily routine -- a two-hour time commitment that begins before practice even starts. Players receive a text informing them when their "table time" is scheduled. That includes 30 minutes with a massage therapist, physical therapist, or both, depending on what ails them that day. From there, players spend 30 minutes in the weight room, then move to the court for individual training. "Our whole setup can be a bit rigid," Atkinson says. "We're like a college program, in some ways. We have this car wash of very specific things with very specific people.
Durant says that for most NBA veterans, their training regimen is sacred. It's what reinforces their greatness, and their commitment. "It's going to have to be a give and take," Durant says. "At this point of our careers, we have routines. At the same time, I want to learn what they're about. We have to be willing to meet halfway."
Yet Irving's infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates.
Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn's trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it. There's hope that Durant will be able to coax his friend into a better frame of mind. But when presented with that scenario, KD says he will be hands off.
There has already been leeway to allow Irving to march to his own drum. The Nets are willing to look past moments like the photo shoot at the Pearl TV Tower in China, when Irving refused to remove his hat and instructed them to photoshop it out. They will focus more on the bigger issue of sharing the ball and maintaining good team chemistry.
Brian Lewis: Brook Lopez: "“I think it’s kind of natural. We’ve gotten a little complacent. Like I’ve been alluding to, it starts with me." #Nets
Losing can get to anyone. With the worst record in the league coming into New Year’s Eve, the Nets have done more losing than just about anybody. So it is not shocking frustrations mounted on the court during Friday’s game at Washington and in the locker room after yet another lopsided defeat. “It was in the locker room. We handled it. It’s important we all have respect for each other and also have the ability to hold each other accountable,’’ Brook Lopez said of the flared tempers, first reported by The Post. “It was just frustrating. It was emotional and a frustrating game, and guys were just venting. I don’t know what was necessarily correct or who said what, but the important thing is it happened.
“I don’t think conflict is bad. I’m not going to have a team meeting because a couple of guys were bickering. I’m a coach who embraces conflict. We have conflict in the video room, and we have brutal ones at times. “The fact they have conflict with each other, it’s not the end of the world. I’m glad they talked about it just like any family would when you get into an argument with your brother, sister or wife. Out of all that, it comes out that we can get better. Those moments of conflicts that can make you better.”
June 28, 2022 | 11:28 am EDT Update
Matej Sportinfo: Luka and Goran were asked about the possibility of them playing together in Dallas next season. Luka: “I would like to answer that, but I think it’s a 100.000 penalty if I did. You should ask the GM about that.” Goran: “We can’t talk about it till july 1st.”
Westbrook’s agent Thad Foucher is planning to file the paperwork Tuesday, sources said. Westbrook has a Wednesday deadline on his option. Westbrook, an eight-time All-Star and 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player, enters the final season of his original five-year, $206 million contract.
June 28, 2022 | 11:13 am EDT Update
We’re talking about, you know, high-ranking people who believe that Kyrie is not this is not done. I don’t know. Yeah, let me just say this about the Lakers: He obviously was very interested in joining the Lakers, and the Lakers are very interested in having him. The problem is, is that the Lakers can’t really right now.
The Nets and Irving did come close to an agreement late last week, sources said, before talks stalled out. Sources said Irving had three potential opt-in-and-trade options available to pursue before making his final decision. Across the league, there are only five teams with projected salary-cap space: Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando, Indiana and New York, with all wanting to build around younger players or prioritizing other free agents. For their part, the Lakers were much more motivated to have Irving sign as a free agent than they were in acquiring the three-time All-NBA guard via trade, sources said. And as Irving went through his opt-in-and-trade options — as well as the potential of joining the Lakers in free agency — the decision to return to Brooklyn crystalized.
Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, and the Nets front office held extensive and productive extension discussions over the past six days, with sources on both sides describing good-faith negotiations to reach a new deal. The Nets and Shetellia Riley Irving worked through various proposals, including a two-year max extension that included incentives based on games played as well as a four-year max that included two years guaranteed and triggers for years three and four based on the games played in years one and two, sources said. Irving showed a willingness to accept an incentive-based deal before a final counter was made to the Nets, according to sources: a short-term contract extension protecting both sides with a player option. Brooklyn declined.
Several teams are expected to continue to pursue Irving via trade, but his opt-in makes clubs consider more closely whether to trade assets in a deal for a player who will enter unrestricted free agency in 2023. Teams across the league understand Irving’s talent, and now a full season in 2022-23 allows him the opportunity to prove himself once again, then return to the market and earn a maximum contract next summer. Multiple sources with knowledge of his decision said Irving wants to prioritize winning a championship next season and show why he’s one of the best players in the league.