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Kyrie Irving ‘happy as I’ve seen him, maybe ever,’ says MacMullan

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe Kyrie Irving is “good mood-y?”

In follow-up interviews on ESPN Tuesday and Wednesday, Jackie MacMullan talked about her Tuesday story on the Nets which attracted attention because she suggested that the Nets have an “unspoken concern” about Irving’s “infamous mood swings.”

But MacMullan spoke more about Irving’s level of engagement ... and how happy he is, something she had talked about last week in promoting the ESPN story but not something that appeared in the final version of the story.

On the Dan LeBetard show Tuesday, MacMullen detailed just how happy Irving is and how he’s committed to the Nets,

“I was in Brooklyn for about four days and he’s happy as I’ve seen him, maybe ever,” said MacMullan.

She also credited him with helping out other, younger players, something everyone from Caris LeVert to Jaylen Hands has talked about.

”He [Kyrie] is taking the time to be with the younger players. He’s engaging with them. He won the game for them the other night, almost won the game for them on opening night.”

MacMullan spoke as well about the Nets bigger picture, how so many of the Nets are on long term deals (eight of the 15 are under contract for at least three years.) It’s something that both Irving and Kevin Durant noted.

“Here’s one of the other things that I think matters about the Nets, they’re all going to be there. They’re all signed for the next three years,” said the Hall of Fame writer. “I think that’s a huge advantage in today’s landscape.”

Asked by Mina Kimes Wednesday about whether Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson were committed to integrating the two into the Nets culture, MacMullan replied that Marks has a great luxury going forward ... one Atkinson may not have.

“Well, I think Sean is determined to do it. You know for him it’s all about communications and trust and that’s what they built their team on. And he’s going to keep plowing away at it. You know Kenny doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t have time, right? He’s gotta win games. He’s gotta get these guys on the same page.”

She did add that Atkinson is willing to go along with concessions because of who Kyrie and KD are ... winners.

“One thing Kenny did say to me was that hey, give-and-take is fine with me. Hey, these guys I’m going to learn from them. These guys have won championships. I haven’t. So that’s probably a good way to approach it. But he also said there’ll be lines in the sand. It will be interesting to see what these lines are.”

Atkinson —and Marks— were recently given two-year extensions, with a raise,

And as she did with LeBetard, MacMullan found an aspect of the Nets long-term plan to praise, the HSS Training Center,

“Check our the Brooklyn practice facility. It’s the nicest one in the league. Cold tubs, hot tubs, State-of-the-art pools to help with conditioning. There’s a rooftop that has the most magnificent view of the New York skyline. They wanted to make their facility so attractive that guys would want to stay there every day.”

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Williams, speaking with Max Kellerman, said he’d spoken with Marks and that the Nets GM had confirmed one of the key incidents MacMullan mentioned in her story: that Irving had declined to take off his (Nets) cap during a photo shoot atop the Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai.

“He did not want to take his hat off,” said Williams. “He did ask them to photoshop that.

Bottom line for the ESPN commentator? “Look on the big scale of things, I think this is not a concern. All the players and the team seem to be on same page.”

End of story? Doubt it.