NBA Rumor: Brooklyn Nets Turmoil?

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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.

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.”

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?”

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.


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.”

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.”

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.

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.”
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January 23, 2021 | 8:06 pm EST Update

Timberwolves keeping Ryan Saunders for now

Ryan Saunders will remain coach of the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves, at least until he gets an opportunity to coach a stretch with star Karl-Anthony Towns in the regular lineup. “I haven’t even talked to (basketball president Gersson Rosas) about that — he hasn’t brought it up, but you’re asking me, and it’s probably hard to tell a guy that you aren’t doing the job when your best guy isn’t playing,” Wolves owner Glen Taylor said Saturday from his home in Mankato.
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For most of a year, Taylor has explored a sale of the Wolves and Lynx. How’s that coming? “Well, it’s not coming is the best way to say it,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found anything that for sure says I should move ahead.” Taylor’s price tag for the Wolves and Lynx is estimated to be in the $1.5 billion range. With NBA expansion — Las Vegas and Seattle have been mentioned — current team owners could each be in for a reported $160 million expansion fee windfall. “Obviously I’m aware of that — you’ve got to pick your time,” Taylor said, adding that no definite decision for expansion has been made. “The other question: Is now a good time to sell when you don’t have fans? And it’s not a good time.”