Nets Notes: Irving, Tsai, Brown, Simmons

The Nets won’t have much leverage in negotiations with Kyrie Irving if he decides to opt out of his contract for next season and seek a five-year maximum deal worth nearly $250MM, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. The option year was used to attract Irving in 2019 when he came to Brooklyn along with Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to turn around a struggling franchise.

However, the results have been mixed over the the past three years, with just one playoff series win and several incidents that call into question the wisdom of a long-term deal for Irving, who played just 29 games this season because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Deveney expects the Nets to drop public hints that they’re unsure about giving Irving a full max contract, hoping to convince him to opt in for next season or negotiate an extension for less money. However, Deveney believes Irving’s representatives would see that as a bluff and would insist on getting maximum value.

Brooklyn officials have a pattern of allowing Irving to do whatever he wants, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in an appearance this week on “NBA Today” (video link). He points out that the team was originally unwilling to accept Irving as a part-time player and got off to a 21-9 start without him. The trajectory of the season changed when the front office reversed that decision.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets and Barclays Center suffered losses this season estimated between $50MM and $100MM, a source tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post. That led owner Joe Tsai to force out John Abbamondi, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports Entertainment, which oversees both operations, and he’s now seeking his third top executive in less than three years. Although the Nets set records for attendance, they don’t have enough other revenue to support their $174MM payroll.
  • After a strong second half and an impressive performance in the playoffs, Bruce Brown may be able to land a contract starting in the $8-10MM range, Lewis adds in a separate story. Brown will be an unrestricted free agent after accepting the team’s $4.7MM qualifying offer last summer.
  • Brooklyn may have no other choice than to keep Ben Simmons and see how he can fit into the team next season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Teams were hesitant to make offers to the Sixers prior to the deadline, and there are even more doubts about Simmons’ condition after he failed to play at all for the Nets.
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