The Brooklyn Nets have put their foot down and said Kyrie Irving is not allowed to participate with the team until he is vaccinated.
This news comes after the team traveled to Philadelphia without their star point guard, essentially confirming their plans before they were officially announced.
With Irving out of the lineup indefinitely, the Nets still have championship aspirations, and a team led by James Harden and Kevin Durant can certainly get there, but it’s no longer as much of a slam dunk as it might’ve been with Irving in their star guard.
It’s tough to tell what the chemistry inside the locker room looks like, but according to ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, the Nets might have a bigger problem on their hands and it’s coming in the form of Daryl Morey.
Harden’s former general manager in Houston is now in charge of running the 76ers, and Stephen A says he has his eye on Harden in the hopes of prying him away from the Nets.
Philadelphia Coming For Harden?
Obviously, the Nets would also have to sign off on a trade involving one of their star players, so the 76ers having interest in Harden doesn’t mean a lot if both teams aren’t on board.
With that said, Stephen A says Morey is watching the situation from afar.
“Now you might lose James Harden,” said Smith. “Because Daryl Morey is lurking in Philadelphia. Don’t think for one second Daryl Morey ain’t trying to get his hands on James Harden. I’m telling you what I know.”
Smith doesn’t say anything about who told him this, and it does seem like a shocking thing to say. At this point, it’s really hard to imagine a blockbuster trade like this happening, especially since the Nets will be needed Harden’s services more than ever.
If it were something like Irving being flipped for disgruntled All-Star Ben Simmons, then it’d seem a bit more believable. On the same night Irving didn’t travel to Philadelphia, Simmons reported to the 76ers’ facilities and it seems like he’s on the cusp of rejoining the team for the start of the season.
Irving Can Come Back If He Wants
Something the Nets might be hoping for is for Irving to reverse course and get vaccinated so he’d be able to play in home games at the Barclays Center and also visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The door is open for Irving to decide to get the vaccine and join the team once he’s committed to being a full participant. Before this decision, the Nets would only have the services of their point guard on the road, something the team decided was just not worth the distraction.
In the short term, the Nets will likely be find with Harden and Durant carrying the load, but they might find themselves needed Irving as the final hurdle to winning a championship. Perhaps the missed paychecks from home games will be enough to get him to change his mind and join the team. Only time will tell.