Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills player option deadline looming

By no later than June 29, both Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills will need to decide if they'll opt-in to their contracts. Otherwise, the potential exists to negotiate a long-term deal with the Nets, become unrestricted free agents or in the least likely of scenarios, agree to a sign and trade route.

Mills is due $6.2 million and Irving 36.9 by opting in to their respective deals. No, a divorce been the organization and these two players isn't imminent, but there's not exactly been surefire discussions that either player will assuredly be back next year.

Sean Marks has his work cut out for him. Mills was the anti-Kyrie last season. The Nets guard was available for all games, a team-centric leader, but with an undersized frame that gives little defensive resistance to go along with him showing signs of fatigue during the regular season after logging heavy minutes in Irving's absence.  Retaining Mills to an already small and defensively challenged backcourt composed of Seth Curry and possibly Irving does present some concerns.

Reports surfaced over the past few weeks that Marks and the Nets are reluctant to hitch their wagons to Irving long-term without knowing he's going to make a full-time commitment to the club. Vaccine compliance aside, Irving has missed significant playing time during his Nets' tenure for a multitude of reasons including: unexcused absences to be with family, citing mental health issues for missing games, on-court injuries that sidelined him, along with his refusal to comply with local vaccine mandates in New York City and Canada last year.

Irving, whether he intended to or not, became a distraction for the club. Even upon returning after the Nets reversed course and allowed him to play part-time,  come playoff time, the lack of conditioning and game reps saw him fade in the final three games of the first round sweep by the Celtics.

It's unlikely Irving will opt-in to his deal as he'll be looking for a three-or four-year extension to coincide with Durant being under contract in Brooklyn.

Irving has shown he's willing to pay the ultimate price by missing games, forfeiting $380,000 game checks with each contest missed and impacting the championship trajectory of his team's season. Even if Marks makes Irving's deal an incentive-laden agreement, it will do little to dissuade Irving from doing what he's always done: marching to the beat of his own drum.
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