Amar'e Stoudemire Says Kyrie Irving's Absences 'Definitely' Hurt Nets' Chemistry

Adam WellsMay 15, 2022

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Amar'e Stoudemire had a firsthand experience with the Brooklyn Nets this season as a player development assistant.

Appearing on ESPN's Get Up earlier this week (starts at 0:17 mark), Stoudemire said Kyrie Irving's irregular playing time "definitely hurt" the Nets because "we didn't have the consistency with Kyrie enough to build chemistry for the group with the team."

Irving wasn't available to the Nets for home games and in certain road games because of his stance against getting the COVID-19 vaccine and mandates in New York City, as well as Toronto, that required athletes to be vaccinated to play.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Oct. 12 that Irving wouldn't play or practice with the team until he could do so on a full-time basis.

Because of injuries and COVID-19 absences, the Nets reversed course Dec. 17 and announced that Irving would play in road games. He made his season debut Jan. 5 but didn't play more than five consecutive games for more than two months.

New York City mayor Eric Adams rolled back the vaccine mandate for athletes on March 24. Irving played in each of the Nets' final 14 games, including the postseason, after Adams' decision.

The erratic playing time for Irving coincided with Kevin Durant missing a total of 27 games because of injuries and health and safety protocols. Durant sat out 21 straight games from Jan. 17 to March 3 with a sprained MCL.

Irving and Durant only played in 17 games together during the regular season. The Nets went 11-6 in those games, compared to 33-32 when at least one of them didn't play.

The Nets' playoff run came to an abrupt end when they were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. Irving scored a total of 46 points on 37.2 percent shooting in the final three games of the series.

Irving can become a free agent this summer if he declines his $36.5 million option for 2022-23.

Marks told reporters this week the Nets are "looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available" as they build their roster for next season.

Irving averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 29 starts this season. He has only appeared in 103 games in three seasons with the Nets.