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Reports: Nets, Kyrie Irving have mutual interest

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Both Anthony Puccio, writing for SNY, and Brian Lewis report that the Nets have interest in Kyrie Irving, with or without Kevin Durant, and that the 6’3” Celtics guard has been tracking the Nets progress as well. The Nets in fact think a backcourt of Irving and D’Angelo Russell work in Brooklyn, the two write.

Pooch notes...

Sources tell SNY that Kyrie Irving and his camp are strongly considering Brooklyn if he decides to leave Boston. Irving’s camp has kept a close eye on the Nets as the season progressed and the team got better, with the playoffs only helping their case.

SNY also learned recently that the Nets would not shy away from signing Irving even if they re-sign point guard D’Angelo Russell. The ideal scenario would be to pair two max free agents, such as Kevin Durant and Irving, but sources say the Nets would be open to pairing Irving and Russell in the backcourt together.

Similarly, Lewis reports...

A source tells me that there are some within the Nets organization that feel a D’Angelo Russell-Kyrie Irving pairing could work, that the two All-Star point guards could not only coexist but thrive.

Lewis spoke as well with Kevin Boyle, the high school coach who worked with Irving at St. Patrick’s High School in New Jersey and with Russell at Montverde Academy in Florida. Boyle told Lewis that the two are friendly and he believes strongly that they would work well together in Brooklyn.

“I 1,000 percent think that could work. D’Angelo knows Kyrie, likes him, respects him. That could work with both sides. Kyrie could help D’Angelo to that top-10, top-15 level,” Boyle said. “I could see that blending together nicely. Not everybody fits with everybody. I don’t know why in Boston the things didn’t fit [for Irving], but it could fit there.

“They could play together, because both are guys who can score, get their shot own shot, yet both are outstanding passers and spray the ball around.

Earlier this month, Caesar’s sports book in Las Vegas put the Nets as the favorite to land the 27-year-old

Irving will be a top free agency target if he decides to opt out this summer. He was an NBA champion with the Cavaliers in 2016 as well as an Olympic gold medalist that same year in Rio de Janiero. He also has a gold medal from the FIBA World Cup in 2017. He was named MVP of the World Cup and is a six-time NBA All-Star.

Interest in Irving is not dependent on the Nets signing Durant, the two report, and there’s every indication Brooklyn will pursue KD should he opt out of his Warrior contract. Irving, who grew up in West Orange, a fan of the Nets and Jason Kidd — a player with whom he shares the same birthday (March 23) . He “attended countless New Jersey Nets games” while growing up, he’s said in the past.

“[The metro area] will always be home to me. I’m from New Jersey, to just be clear. This is where I grew up,” Irving told The Post last summer.

Irving averaged 23.2 points and 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists last season but missed 15 games and became the scapegoat for Boston’s disappointing season.

There are certainly questions about whether he fits or not. If he decides to leave Boston, he’ll be joining his third team in four years. He had issues playing with younger players, particularly this past season. Furthermore, he has an injury history that may deter teams from committing to him long-term.

However, if the Nets were to pair Russell and Irving, they would immediately have one of the toughest backcourts in the Eastern Conference. That alone might be enough for both sides to take a chance on one another.

All this follows Tim Legler’s comments to Stephen A. Smith Friday about how KD and/or Kyrie would fit better in Brooklyn than Manhattan. “If you’re talking about stability and style and toughness and getting there with some of the pieces they already have... to me that’s ready made to immediately contend.”

Hang on to the Brooklyn’s Backcourt trademark, Brett. You might get a chance to use it again!