Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the Brooklyn Nets is off to a shaky start.
Although Irving has been excellent on the hardwood, averaging 31.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game through seven contests, Brooklyn owns just a 3-4 record. Meanwhile, there have been questions about Irving’s off-the-court demeanor.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan wrote last week that Irving’s “mood swings” are the “unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy” and that the All-Star point guard often “shuts down” when it comes to communicating, whether it be with Brooklyn’s coaching staff, the organization’s front office or his teammates.
Sarah Kustok, an NBA analyst who covers the Nets, downplayed those rumors Wednesday on FS1’s “First Things First,” explaining that Irving has established a good rapport with his new teammates since signing with Brooklyn as a free agent this past offseason.
“I’m there every day. I’m there at practice. I sit through the open gyms. You’re there at games. You talk to the teammates. You know the players, many of them you’ve known for many years. And there’s been no issues,” Kustok said. “We’ve all been through the course of an NBA season — the highs and lows, you’re traveling with people, you’re around people, things come up and things happen. But to this point, and I know that it stemmed from Jackie MacMullan, who I respect more than anyone on the planet, I don’t think that was the purpose of her article, and sometimes we pull one thing out of there and that’s where the ‘mood swings’ had come up from.
“I think anytime a guy comes to a new situation and he’s still relatively young in his career, 27, (it’s) a fresh slate, and it’s a different group. It’s a different set of personalities on this Nets group, which have embraced Kyrie. Kyrie has embraced them. He has got a high level of compete. He is intense and he brings a whole other level of mentality of trying to win a championship to a group. However, I think that’s something that has been very positive for this team.”
Rumors of Irving acting strange certainly won’t surprise many Celtics fans, as his leadership was called into question many times throughout his two seasons in Boston. The Cavaliers also are well aware of how mercurial Irving can be given that he requested a trade out of Cleveland after the 2016-17 campaign despite winning a championship just one year prior.
Signing with the Nets — his hometown team — was supposed to represent a fresh start, however. And to this point, his brief stint in Brooklyn has only spawned more questions about his effect on locker room chemistry.
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