Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets remain the talk of the NBA world with preseason having started this past weekend.
It’s not for the reason a championship-contending Nets team would hope. Irving, 29, continues to push back against getting vaccinated for COVID-19. In turn, he will not be allowed to practice or play games in New York City due to local pandemic mandates.
Irving was away from the Nets during the preseason opener against the Lakers in Los Angeles this past weekend. He did not practice with the team in the Big Apple on Tuesday. And there’s no indication that the Nets’ brass plans to change its practice location to cater to Kyrie Irving.
According to this report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the Nets are also unsettled when it comes to potentially sitting Irving throughout the season should he remain against getting vaccinated.
“The Brooklyn Nets remain unclear on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s ultimate intentions to get vaccinated and have made no decision on whether the organization will accommodate him as a part-time player this season, ” the two NBA insiders reported.
“If Irving remains unvaccinated, the Nets could be faced soon with a decision on whether they’ll allow Irving to come and go with the team in and out of New York — or just keep him sidelined all together, sources said.”
There’s definitely logistical concerns with letting Irving to solely play road games. As noted in the report, Brooklyn has a six-game home stand to open the second week of the regular season. This means Irving would be away from his teammates for 11 days. That scenario is repeated over and over again.
With or without Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets believe they are title contender
Flush with Kevin Durant and James Harden, the Nets’ season wouldn’t simply be over if they decided to sit Irving for all 82 games or until he opts to get vaccinated.
Summer additions of LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Paul Millsap add another layer to this. As for Brooklyn’s brass, it believes this team is a top title contender even if Irving were not to play.
“The Nets believe they’re still a championship contender with a roster constructed around Kevin Durant and James Harden and could ultimately have to make hard decisions on Irving’s future should he remain unvaccinated and unable to play in the Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden,” the ESPN report read .
From an individual and financial perspective, Irving would miss out on $380,000 per home game he missed while remaining unvaccinated.
Irving was stellar for the Nets a season ago, averaging 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He also joined the rare 50-90-40 clubs by hitting on 51% of his shots, 92% of his free throws and 40% of his attempts from three-point range.
All of this comes with some big-name NBA players continuing to push back against getting vaccinated. Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal has not received a shot. Although, the Washington D.C. area does not have the same local mandates as New York City. Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins was just vaccinated. He, too, faced the possibility of missing home games in San Francisco is he were to remain unvaccinated.