Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
The Brooklyn Nets plan to make a group decision as to the status of star Kyrie Irving for the 2021-22 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski reported Monday (via Alec Sturm of NetsDaily) that Kevin Durant, James Harden, team governor Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks will all weigh the matter.
Under guidelines in New York City, members of the Nets are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play home games at Barclays Center.
In an interview with Rolling Stone‘s Matt Sullivan, Irving’s aunt, Tyki, floated the possibility that he would sit out Brooklyn’s home matchups, thus taking one of the team’s best players out of the lineup for half of the season.
Irving was absent from the Nets’ media day and instead answered questions on Instagram Live. When asked about his vaccination status, the seven-time All-Star responded he wanted to keep the matter private.
Nets Videos @SNYNets
Does Kyrie Irving plan to get vaccinated?
“I like to keep that stuff private. Living in the public sphere, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie, but I’d like to keep that stuff private” pic.twitter.com/BOciGLWu5U
With Irving’s status up in the air, head coach Steve Nash conceded Sunday the team was planning to forge ahead under the impression he’ll be unavailable to play at home.
“I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” Nash said. “We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”
Addressing the situation, Durant struck a more optimistic tone earlier this month.
“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” he told reporters Oct. 6. “Maybe I’m just naive, maybe, but that’s just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group that if we keep building we can do something special.”
Brooklyn opens the regular season with road games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers before heading to Barclays Center with a matchup on Oct. 24 against the Charlotte Hornets. That doesn’t leave much time to reach a resolution beyond the current status quo.
Trading Irving might be out of the question right now.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported in September that Durant would put his foot down in the event the Nets tried to move the 6’2″ guard. Prior to that, Fox Sports’ Nick Wright reported Irving may retire altogether if he got dealt to another team.
At the same time, Irving’s continued absence will inevitably be a problem by the time the playoffs roll around and he’s out for three or four games of a pivotal postseason series.