The Brooklyn Nets have a very busy offseason ahead of them after one of the most disappointing seasons the franchise has had in quite some time. The first-round exit has put Sean Marks and the front office on notice for a very busy summer before the team — whatever it may look like — reconvenes for training camp in the fall.
The Nets will have to decide on what the future holds for them and Kyrie Irving, which could have a massive impact on Kevin Durant’s own tenure with the franchise. A number of free agents will also have to be signed and the Nets will try and find a way to make up for the deficiencies that were exposed during their first-round series with the Boston Celtics.
Here is a look at what is on Marks and the Nets front office’s checklist this offseason.
Kyrie Irving’s future in Brooklyn
It’s clear that the Nets have some reservations with Irving after a very tumultuous season with the superstar that saw him miss a third of the year because of his stance on the COVID vaccine. According to various reports, the Nets do not want to offer him a long-term contract extension which isn’t hard to understand from a team perspective considering the lack of availability since he came to Brooklyn.
From Irving’s perspective, signing a shorter-term extension or just opting into the final year of his current contract wouldn’t make much sense either, especially leaving so much money on the table. Irving is eligible for a nearly $200 million extension with the Nets if he opts out of his $36 million option.
The point guard has said he wanted to stay in Brooklyn with Kevin Durant. Marks appeared to be much more lukewarm about Irving’s future when he spoke with reporters in mid-May.
“Those are the discussions that we’ll have to have with Kyrie in person and take it from there,” Marks responded when asked if the team will need a firm commitment from him to play out a full season. “Those discussions haven’t happened yet. I don’t want to comment on hypotheticals and what may happen, but we’ll wait and see. Hopefully sooner or later we’re having those discussions.”
Irving will make the decision about his player option at the end of June, but the Nets will need to have to decide just how much the mercurial star is worth to them. The dangerous game the Nets risk running is if Irving does leave, replacing him in any capacity would be tough to do and could impact Durant’s desire to remain in Brooklyn.
Finding Free Agents
Aside from the drama with Kyrie Irving, Marks will need to help fill out a Nets roster with limited cap space to do it, while also resigning key free agents. The Nets have eight players that will need new contracts and Patty Mills has a player option for next season.
It appeared the Nets front office was keen on holding on to pending RFA Nic Claxton and is reportedly ready to match any offer that may come to the young big man. Free Agent Bruce Brown is sure to receive some interest on the open market, but there had been no indication of where the Nets stood on bringing him back.
While the cap may create a bit of an issue as the Nets try to navigate free agency, Marks said he had no restrictions on what he could do to bring players in from team ownership.
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“The objective here is to win. (Tsai has) made it very clear. That’s what we want to do,” Marks said on Wednesday. “And he has never said no, and if the decision is the right one, and we think going forward it doesn’t hamstring us long-term, I have no problem going to Joe and saying this is the decision we do, whether it’s trading a player, signing a player, or using an exception such as you pointed out.”
Finding the culture
This will fold into the Nets’ hunt for free agents, but reclaiming the culture in Brooklyn will be part of the offseason plan for Marks and his team. The Nets had a much more defined culture in years past with teams that weren’t as star-studded but competed to certain standards set by the front office.
The Nets got away from that a bit this year for various reasons and Marks along with head coach Steve Nash will need to reinstall that in the team that takes the court for the 2022-23 season.