Atlantic Notes: Kyrie, Nets Draft Class, Embiid, MVP

The Nets have a busy summer ahead of them. The futures of point guard Kyrie Irving, reserve guard Patty Mills, wing Bruce Brown, and center Nic Claxton, as well as the team’s coaching and chemistry, are among the big offseason issues facing Brooklyn, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Lewis wonders if the Nets will want to reward Irving with a long-term contract should he choose to opt out this summer, after what has been a challenging season for the point guard off the court. Lewis notes that Irving has been unavailable for 123 of 226 regular-season contests since signing with Brooklyn in 2019. The team also faces an intimidating luxury tax bill moving forward.

Mills and Irving currently have player options for the 2022/23 season. Claxton is a restricted free agent, while Brown is unrestricted. How many Nets under contract will even be available to start the year is in question, as both Ben Simmons and Seth Curry underwent postseason surgeries, while Joe Harris had two ankle surgeries during the season.

Lewis notes that the Nets, coached by Steve Nash, were swept by the Celtics, coached by former Broolkyn assistant coach Ime Udoka, in the first round. Lewis wonders if Nash can improve as a coach and if he might be willing to hand off the defense to an assistant.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets used all five of their draft picks in 2021. Alex Schiffer and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take a look at Brooklyn’s rookies for 2021/22: shooting guard Cam Thomas, small forward Kessler Edwards, power forward Day’Ron Sharpe, forward Raiquan Gray and guard Marcus Zegarowski. Schiffer and Vecenie then ponder the younger players’ fits with the club moving forward.
  • Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid has shown his historical greatness in his return to Philadelphia while nursing two injuries, writes Derek Bodner of The Daily Six. The center’s outstanding performance in the 76ers’ two home playoff victories in their second-round matchup against the Heat exhibited how his greatness could elevate a supporting cast of at-times ill-fitting parts, opines Bodner. Miami currently leads the series 3-2.
  • Following the Sixers‘ 120-85 Game 5 loss in Miami Tuesday night, Philadelphia All-Star big man Joel Embiid reflected on Nuggets center Nikola Jokic besting him for the 2022 NBA MVP award, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice (Twitter link). “Obviously, congrats to Nikola, he deserved it, he had an amazing season,” Embiid said. “There’s no right or wrong, there [were] a lot of candidates. It could have gone either way. Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Devin Booker being on the best team in the league by far, so I guess every year it’s all about whatever you guys decided, whatever fits the narrative as far as who’s going to win.”
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