Kyrie Irving speaks to media about “pawns,” Steve Nash, Harden rumors

Kyrie Irving decided speaking to the media was less painful than giving up $25,000, and on Monday the Brooklyn point guard took part in a wide-ranging Zoom interview with the press.

One where he had to walk back — or “clarify” if you want to sound like a politician — some of his recent comments. All quotes in this story are via Ian Begley at SNY.TV.

Irving admitted he was wrong in his earlier comments about Steve Nash as coach. On Kevin Durant‘s podcast, Irving had talked about how the Nets didn’t have a “head coach” in the traditional sense and that everyone (himself and Durant included) would pitch in.

“You know, I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago,” Irving said. “Steve’s been amazing. And it really is a reflection of the type of person he is, and the IQ he has for the game. He commands the respect and it’s not through just coming in and being the kind of typical rah-rah coach being on us. It’s just giving us a comfortable space to grow, to communicate, to throw ideas out there. And then you’ve got a two-time MVP coaching you.”

As for Irving saying in his second statement, “I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more,” Irving walked it back, saying that it was not about the media but protecting his own voice.

“The focus is on what’s going on in here, you know, my job,” Irving explained. “And I wanted to make sure that that was clear, no distractions, nothing about dispelling anything, nothing about going back-and-forth, nor about calling out one person or another, not even to refer to you guys as pawns, you know what I mean, or media. It’s just really how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership.”

Irving looked good in his first preseason game for Brooklyn, but that is not going to slow the NBA rumor mill: Irving’s name came up in James Harden trade talks. Harden wants to force his way to Brooklyn, but the Rockets reportedly are only interested if Irving is part of the package. Brooklyn has no plans to include him in the deal. Irving brushed aside the rumors.

“That part of our business is going to be what it is,” he said. “You know there’s no control that we have as players to at least manage what’s being said in terms of rumor mills and what’s being reported. Let’s just leave it at that. James is a great player, and we wish him well. I just want him to be happy…but we’re focused on us.”

Irving is right about that; he got dragged into that rumor cycle when there was no chance he would be part of a deal, except in Tilman Fertitta’s fever dreams.

If Irving keeps playing like he did in his first preseason game, the focus around Brooklyn will shift to title contention, not trades.