Amar’e Stoudemire understands the behind-the-scenes workings of the Nets better than most, as he was hired by the team in October 2020 as a player development assistant.
Appearing on ESPN Thursday, Stoudemire disclosed that he’s no longer part of the Nets coaching staff (his own decision) and he also admitted that Kyrie Irving‘s absence had a negative impact on the team.
Irving, of course, played just 29 games with the Nets this past season due to his vaccination status and local COVID mandates.
“Yeah, I think it hurts us,” Stoudemire said. “It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have consistency enough with Kyrie to build chemistry with the group, with the team.
“He’s playing only away games depending on which city it is, can’t play in New York, so therefore we had different lineups, different matchups depending on the game scheduling. So, it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie. The chemistry’s not quite there like we would like it to be, so it was difficult for us to manage that.”
The Nets have an interesting decision to make regarding Irving’s future with the team as well. Irving has a player option for 2023, though the Nets could look to extend him on a max, five-year contract. But as Stoudemire pointed out, the Nets will need to take Irving’s absences into account when deciding what’s best for the team.
“I do think with Kevin [Durant] and Ky, [GM Sean Marks will] have a real sit-down,” Stoudemire said. “Because Ky, since he came to the Nets, he has missed more games than he played. So, I think you have a conversation. Two of your star players sit down in a room and say, ‘Kyrie what’s your goal? You want to be the best player in the game? Do you want to accomplish more in this league? What are your goals moving forward?’
“And if both understand that ‘Hey, we want to make this thing special here, want to win a championship,’ and he’s committed to playing in those games, then I think you bring him back.”
Still, despite all of this season’s drama, Stoudemire still believes that Irving and the Nets can work things out, and if Irving commits full, the Nets can make a run at a title.
“If Kyrie comes back and plays the way he did when he did play this season, and a full season with a training camp and a full year under his belt,” said Stoudemire, “then they have a chance to build chemistry to win a championship.”