We have plenty of ways to show that the Brooklyn Nets’ season hasn’t gone to plan this year – with the main one currently sitting at home despite employing Kevin Durant – but an assistant coach using ESPN to announce he’s quitting and then calling Kyrie Irving is pretty illustrative.
Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire has spent the past two seasons as an assistant to former teammate Steve Nash’s coaching staff. During a series of appearances on ESPN on Thursday, he revealed he would not be returning to Brooklyn after a disappointing second straight playoff outing.
And then Stoudemire started talking about the whole Kyrie Irving thing.
During a discussion with Stephen A. Smith on “First Take,” Stoudemire openly admitted that Irving missed much of the season due to his refusal to get vaccinated, which hurt the Nets’ ability. to form a functional team:
“Yeah, I think it hurt us. It really hurt us because we didn’t have enough consistency with Kyrie to create chemistry for the band with the team. He only plays on away games depending on the city he is in, can’t play in New York so you have different rosters and games depending on the game schedule.
“So it was difficult for us coaches to know who was going to play against Kyrie. The chemistry is not where we would like it to be, so it was difficult for us to deal with that. So yeah, that was definitely part of that.”
Irving’s status in Brooklyn has been an active topic of discussion since the Nets were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round.
The team had a lot of issues – age, training and the lack of Ben Simmons among them – but general manager Sean Marks said the team needed “available” players in a new post-series conference . Stoudemire apparently agrees, and it’s hard to imagine he’s alone in the Nets organization.
Meanwhile, Irving, who holds a player option for next season, said he looks forward to continuing to manage the organization alongside Durant, Marks and team owner Joseph Tsai.
While speaking with Max Kellerman and Jalen Rose on “Get Up,” Stoudemire applauded Marks for trying to control the situation:
“I think Sean Marks is doing a great job of trying to put the power back in his hands and making sure he’s in control. But I think with Kevin and Ky he has to have a real encounter. Because Kyrie, since signing with the Nets, he’s missed more games than he’s played.
“So I think you have to have the conversation. Two of your star players have to sit in a room and say, ‘Kyrie, what’s your goal? Want to be the best player in the game? Do you want to accomplish more in this league? What are your goals moving forward? And if the two understand that ‘hey, we want to make this stuff special here, want to win a championship’, and he’s committed to playing in these games, then I think you’re bringing him back.”
While Stoudemire was candid about the issues between Irving and the Nets, he fired back when Smith argued the team should get rid of Nash or the point guard. He even claimed that Irving was a snub from the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, which is an argument for another day:
“I don’t agree with that. I think both Steve and Kyrie can relate. I think Kyrie needs to be committed to himself and to basketball. on his commitment to being a great player because I feel like Kyrie should have made the top 75 list. But at the same time, you now have to take that as motivation for next season and prove to yourself that you are a top player and do so consistently throughout the season. “
We’ll see if Irving and Nash end up making it work, or if the point guard gets the message.