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Nets Rumors: Kyrie Irving 'Wanted a Situation ... Like He Thinks LeBron Has'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2022

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Before signing with the Brooklyn Nets, guard Kyrie Irving reportedly asked for assurances that he would have a say in roster decisions.

According to Heavy.com's Steve Bulpett, Irving wanted to have the influence that he perceived LeBron James has had throughout his career:

"When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, 'I'll come and I'll bring Kevin Durant.' And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions.

"It's not uncommon at all for general managers to talk to their top players about possible trades and free agents. That's just smart. You're paying your guy big money, and you want him to be on board. Plus, your guy might have another view of a situation or a player that you haven't considered. But with Kyrie, they talked this out beforehand. He wanted a situation like LeBron has—or like he thinks LeBron has."

Irving was apparently alluding to that agreement when he mentioned "managing this franchise together" with Durant, Nets governor Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks after Brooklyn was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics last month.

Kyrie spent three seasons as LeBron's teammate with the Cleveland Cavaliers and enjoyed a great deal of success during that time, including winning a championship in 2016.

He requested a trade in 2017, though, and was dealt to the Celtics. The expectation was that Irving would be a staple with Boston, but he was on the move again just two years later, signing with Brooklyn in free agency in 2019.

Durant was on the shelf with an Achilles injury when he also hit free agency in 2019, but he signed with the Nets at the same time as Irving, eyeing championship contention in 2020-21 and beyond.

While the Nets have been a playoff team during the Irving and Durant era, they have not come close to winning a championship, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs last season and the Celtics in the first round this season. They were swept by the Toronto Raptors in 2020 without Irving or Durant.

The organization also bailed on a big move it made last season when it acquired All-Star guard James Harden from the Houston Rockets.

Harden was supposed to complete the superstar triumvirate with Irving and Durant, but injuries prevented the three of them from playing together often, and the Nets traded Harden and Paul Millsap before the deadline this season for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kyrie could become a free agent this offseason, but he has a $36.9 million player option for 2022-23.

If Irving does stick around, the Nets front office will have to find the right balance of players around him and Durant to take the next step and contend for a title.

By the sound of it, Kyrie and KD will have a hand in that process, much like LeBron seemingly has throughout his career.

That hasn't always worked out for James, as he has missed the playoffs twice during his four years with the Los Angeles Lakers, including this season, though he won a championship two years ago.

James also won two titles with the Miami Heat and one with the Cavs, so emulating LeBron's path makes sense for Irving or any other NBA star.

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