Amar’e Stoudemire is leaving his post with the Nets and said the franchise needs to take a harder stance with star guard Kyrie Irving.
Stoudemire worked under head coach Steve Nash as a player development assistant this season.
Stoudemire made his comments on ESPN’s morning talk shows. He appeared on both the Get Up show with Mike Greenberg and the First Take show with Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams (hat tip to NetsDaily.com).
Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated played a large part in the Nets’ demise, according to Stoudemire.
“Yeah, I think it hurt us. It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have consistency enough with Kyrie to build chemistry with the group, with the team,” he said. “He’s playing only away games depending which city it is … can’t play in New York … therefore we had different lineups, different matchups depending on the game schedule. So it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie.”
Stoudemire, a former All-Star forward/center, said Irving has to make a greater commitment to the franchise in order to solidify his superstar status. Irving was left off the NBA’s 75th anniversary Top 75 squad.
“I feel Kyrie has to make a commitment himself to the game of basketball. on how committed he is to being a great player because I feel like Kyrie should have been on the Top 75 list,” Stoudemire said. “But at the same time, you have to now take that as motivation going into next season and proving, prove to yourself that you are a top player and do it consistently throughout the season. “
Irving is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent this summer. Stoudemire believes that GM Sean Marks needs to get assurances about Irving’s commitment before re-signing the enigmatic guard. Marks indicated that his conversations with Irving this summer will include whether Irving is motivated to playing regularly going forward.
“You can say you’re available and ready to play next season, but are you actually going to do that or are you going to renege on that and not play and if that’s the case you’d have this situation where he says he’s going to be available but he doesn’t, now what do we do? So now you have to negotiate that into the contract, in the writing, try to figure out a way to have the writing set in the contract to where if he doesn’t play these things happen,” Stoudemire said.