Logically, it makes zero sense to give Kyrie Irving a long-term contract.
Regardless of your stance on vaccines — because somehow public health is a political issue as well — his decision to not receive a vaxx for COVID was selfish. It was a choice that he made for himself, the people that his decision affected be damned. That, along with Durant’s injury, put the Brooklyn Nets in a bad postseason spot as a play-in team. According to Irving himself, they didn’t have enough time to gel in order to really compete against a team as talented as the Boston Celtics in the first round.
There was also the previous season in which he missed nine games for “personal reasons” that are still unknown. Irving has had injury problems since he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that is bad enough. Now, three seasons into his time with the Nets, his availability can be summed up as: He plays when it’s convenient to him.
That is not the type of person to ink to a long-term contract, unless the organization is the Brooklyn Nets. They bet on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to not only be the best players, but also business partners with significant decision making power — it’s Irving who said after the Celtics sweep that he sees himself and Durant managing the team alongside owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks. The problem with Irving having that power and influence over team decisions is he operates in a space all to himself, but the Nets chose to give him and Durant that power.
To try and do a reset on that power now would mean a hard reset for the entire franchise. The New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield is reporting that a source said the Nets are unwilling to give Irving a long-term contract extension. Winfield is also reporting that Durant has not communicated with the front office since the end of the season.
The Nets have one answer to all of the problems: Give Irving an extension. Don’t let him enter free agency or exercise his player-option to stay with the team for one more year. Maybe they can try to reason with him on his availability, but they have to keep Durant healthy and happy. Unfortunately for the Nets, the best way for them to do that is with Irving and Ben Simmons, who did not play basketball the entire 2020-21 season due to a combination of mental health and back issues — both of which would be a huge concern by themselves.
Unless Tsai and Marks have some spectacular roster move that could sell Durant on the Nets parting ways with Irving, they’re all stuck with each other. Sorry Tsai, you’re Al Bundy and you’ve got what’s in front of you, so you better make some good jokes to get through it.
While this is an annoying scenario the Nets have found themselves in, it could be worse. They’re an NBA team with real talent on its roster. Joe Harris should be back next year, and Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton had some solid moments against the Celtics. Goran Dragić is also a veteran ball handler and scorer who can excel in a reduced role. With a healthy Simmons again playing like one of the NBA’s best defensive stoppers, the Nets are as good as any team in the league. The issue again, of course, is counting on a player who can’t be counted on to just show up.
It’s business people who run the Nets and they likely don’t want to deal with people who aren’t dependable enough to show up to work. Their problem is that this undependable person is a self-proclaimed member of the executive team and holds as much influence as anyone inside the organization.
Look, the Nets barely rate in New York anyway. At least give the celebrities and hipsters a reason to come to Barclays Center, and the NBA a reason to keep them on national television as frequently as possible. They have to extend Irving and hope for the best. Because, while there’s a mystery to what will happen if he’s on the team for the next few seasons, it’s clear as day what will happen if he’s not. They lose. And that is unassailable logic.