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Kyrie Irving hopes to ‘manage the franchise’ with Kevin Durant alongside Joe Tsai, Sean Marks

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving says he is here to stay in Brooklyn. And it appears he hopes to have some say in the direction of this Brooklyn franchise.

“I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” said Kyrie after the Nets 116-112 Game 4 loss against the Boston Celtics. “I’m just looking forward to the summer and just building with our guys here.”

Irving is eligible to extend with the Nets for four years, $184 million, or for five years, $248 million this offseason. His $42.7 million annually would make him the seventh highest-paid player in the NBA.

Irving went on to say that staying with the Nets doesn’t just mean playing alongside his closest friend Kevin Durant. He also wants a hand in the day-to-day operations of the “franchise” — not just the team—calling it a “co-management relationship.”

“When I say I’m here with Kevin (Durant), I think that it really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe (Tsai) and Sean (Marks),” Irving stated, “and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room, in our organization.

“So it’s not just about me and Kev, I don’t want to make it just about that. We are cornerstones here, but we have a few other guys that are on contract. And I think we just got to make some moves this offseason, really talk about it, really be intentional about what we’re building, have some fun with it, and make it enjoyable.”

Irving who played only 29 games because of his refusal to get vaccinated, also spoke about how that affected the season. He admitted it became a “distraction.”

“I think it was just really heavy emotionally this season,” Irving said “We all felt it. I felt like I was letting the team down at a point where I wasn’t able to play. We were trying to exercise every option for me to play, but I never wanted it to just be about me. And I think it became a distraction at times. And as you see we just had some drastic changes.”

But Irving also blamed “outside noise” for the Nets disappointment of a season and seemed to suggest that the media was responsible.

“Sometimes I feel like the noise on the external world, the outside noise, can seep in. I’m not the type of person to allow that to happen so as we build together as a squad, I just think we need to be tougher mentally and just more honest about what we want to accomplish.

“So many things get into our locker room, us not having probably a team balance of what affects us and impacts us, and how much trust we have in one another when things get uncomfortable. We’ve just got to be tested a little bit more.”

Irving said that will “fuel” his summer.

“I know so many people wanted to see us fail at this juncture, picked us as contenders and have so much to say at this point. So I’m just using that as fuel for the summer.”

Reaction to Irving’s comments has been, so far, muted, but Kendrick Perkins, who played with both Irving and Durant in his career, was having none of it.

“As soon as he started talking, for the first minute I muted it,” Perkins said during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame show on Monday. “He said a whole lot of nothing. Talking about the direction that they’re going in and things to that nature. No. You and Kevin Durant wanted to come together to the Brooklyn Nets to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was to come in and compete for a championship. Not get swept. Not throwing people under the bus. Not say we’re looking forward to the offseason, making some adjustments.”

Much is up in the air with the Nets this offseason after the sweep against Boston, starting with their head coach, Steve Nash (who interestingly was not mentioned as one of the “co-managers” of the franchise by Kyrie in the quote above).

Nash was publicly supported by Kevin Durant in the postgame presser, and national writer Marc Stein wrote that the second-year head coach is “likely” to stay, so we’ll see if it’s all smoke and mirrors. Of course, Durant was heavily involved in the Nash hiring in the first place. His and Irving’s voices would no doubt be heard in any discussion of the head coach.

The roster itself could also be in flux. Two other Nets free agents spoke about their plans, and though Bruce Brown said he hoped to be back, Goran Dragic was much vaguer about his future.

“Yeah, hopefully,” said Brown. “The season just ended; I’m not thinking about it. If there’s a chance to stay, we’ll talk about it. But we’ll see.”

Adrian Wojnarowski said Sunday on ESPN Game Day that Brown could command up to $14 million a year, nearly a $10 million raise from what he’s making this year. Brooklyn holds his bird rights, meaning that they can match any offer thrown his way.

Dragic who has been critical of the Nets' play and cohesion in recent days, wouldn’t say how he was thinking other than he was disappointed. He did say he hopes to play another two or three more seasons. Dragic turns 36 in two weeks.

“Tough to say right now; my head is still hot,” said Dragic. “I don’t want to make any decision right now because I’m pissed and so I just need some time to process this better.”

As for the game, Dragic was succinct.

“They dominated us: second-chance points, rebounding, just everything. They deserve to win,” he said.

The Nets have just seven players under contract assuming Kyrie extends with the team: Irving, Durant, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Cam Thomas, and Day’Ron Sharpe. Patty Mills could be the eighth assuming he picks up his player option, and it’s widely assumed the Nets will pickup rookie Kessler Edwards’ team option for the 2022-23 season. Restricted free-agent center Nic Claxton is another player like Brown whose destiny is ultimately controlled by Brooklyn.

That leaves anywhere between four-to-six available spots for the Nets this summer with Dragic, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Andre Drummond all coming off the books.

Just today, Heavy’s Sean Deveney reported that there was “mutual interest” between the Nets and Carmelo Anthony, a long-time friend of Irving and Durant, and a Brooklyn (Red Hook) native.

“This summer is gonna be a very, very important summer for our organization,” said KD. “We’ll see where we go next year.”