The Brooklyn Nets will tip-off the 2021-’22 NBA season on Oct. 19 and with just a week remaining before the action begins, stars Kevin Durant and James Harden are set to have major involvement regarding the status of Kyrie Irving.
Irving is currently ineligible to play home games at the Barclays Center due to the proof of vaccination requirements. After the team and players insisted for weeks that everything would work itself out and the All-Star point guard would play, the reality is settling in for the Nets.
Speaking to reporters Sunday, head coach Steve Nash acknowledged that Irving won’t be allowed to play home games this year. Now, prominent members of the organization are preparing to discuss Irving’s status for the entire season and his future with the team.
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday, via NetsDaily’s Alec Sturm, that stars Kevin Durant and James Harden will meet with team governor Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks to weigh the current situation. All four will be involved in deciding whether Irving is allowed to be a part-time player. Furthermore, per ESPN, “a lot is riding” on Irving’s short- and long-term future.
Latest on Kyrie Irving’s future with Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn finds itself in a no-win situation if Irving refuses to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. While he received clearance to practice with the team, he has already missed one home preseason game due to the mandate and would miss 41 regular-season home contests if he stands firm in his decision.
- Kyrie Irving contract: $34.916 million base salary (2021-’22), $36.5 million player option for 2022-’23
Brooklyn could try to explore a trade, but that comes with its own complications. Reports have circulated for months that the 29-year-old is willing to retire if he is moved to another team. It’s one of many reasons why he has “virtually zero” trade value around the league.
Irving also has a very close relationship with Durant and is responsible for convincing him to play in Brooklyn. Trading him away, even if it might be in the franchise’s best interest this season, could result in Durant being less happy with the Nets.
But if a trade doesn’t happen, the consensus favorite to win the championship this season loses its star point guard for half the regular season and wouldn’t have him for a significant stretch of the NBA Playoffs.
The Nets kept hoping this issue would resolve itself, but they are running out of time. While Irving would be eligible to play in the opener on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn plays at home on Oct. 24.