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Friedell: Friendship between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ‘isn’t always as close as it appears’

2022 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

One big question in any discussion of Kyrie Irving’s contract status — may be the biggest — is where does Kevin Durant stand? The two are great friends, maybe even best friends, and a package from the time they decided to join the Nets in the 2019 Clean Sweep.

Will KD’s friendship tip the scales for his friend? Will he try to resolve any differences? The narrative is that the bonds are strong with some pundits suggesting that if Irving leaves, Durant may not be far behind.

But Nick Friedell who covered the Nets this season for ESPN says things may be more nuanced than that. He discussed the situation Tuesday on SportsCenter, saying the Nets plan to sit down with Durant to assess his feelings before making any firm decisions, suggesting that sit-down has yet to take place.

“At every turn publicly, [Kevin Durant] has been there to support [Kyrie Irving], to say we need Kyrie, to say Kyrie can win a title with me here in Brooklyn,” Friedell started. “But I can tell you, I’ve been talking to people in the organization the last couple of weeks, when they finally sit down and talk to Kevin throughout the summer, they are trying to figure out if Kevin saw what everybody else saw. ... The reason that whole season got sidetracked was because they couldn’t count on Kyrie, and they didn’t know if he was going to be out there.

“And the issue with Kevin is, he wants to win badly, he wants to be loyal to his friend. But I’ve been told that relationship, while very close, isn’t always as close as it appears to be.”

How much are the Nets and KD talking now? That remains a question. A month ago, Kristian Winfield reported that KD had not spoken with the front office for several weeks. In response, league sources said Durant was taking his annual post-season sabbatical, this year following his friend and former Nets teammate Mike James pursuit of a Euroleague title.

Indeed, Friedell makes it appear that deep conversations between Durant on one side and the Nets brain trust on the other haven’t yet taken place.

“So that is a literal multimillion dollar question here, not only in the next week as we figure out what Kyrie’s going to do with that player option, but moving forward because they just don’t know if that is a dynamic duo that will hold long-term. They want to get a clear answer from Kevin.

“And we’ve talked about it for months: Everything in that Brooklyn organization revolves around Kevin Durant. If KD wants Kyrie back, he’ll be back. If KD signs off on ‘eh, I don’t know if it can work, I don’t know if I can trust him out there every night,’ then Kyrie may be elsewhere.”

Durant been active on Twitter in recent days, parrying with Charles Barkley and talking with random NBA fans, but has not spoken about Irving’s contract talks.