The Brooklyn Nets are wading into unprecedented territory as they look like they are gearing up to play at least half of their season without their star point guard.
Kyrie Irving remains hesitant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and as a result he’s preparing to miss all of his Nets home games because of mandates put in place by the city.
This isn’t ideal for any NBA team with aspirations of bringing home a championship, but if there was a team out there that was capable of weathering this storm, it’d be the Brooklyn Nets.
Without Irving, the Nets still feature the talent of Kevin Durant and James Harden, two players are more than capable of leading the offense. If Irving isn’t available for large chunks of the season, there’s a chance the Nets could still compete for a title.
Facing the likelihood of going into the season without their star guard, Durant detailed what it’ll take for the team to adapt to life without him.
Durant agrees that Kyrie is a talent like no other in the league, but sports are always about filling a void when a player goes down. While this isn’t an injury for Irving, the way to fill the gap is the same as if it was one.
“I mean, he’s a special player, so it is going to be hard to duplicate what he brings,” said Durant according to ESPN. “But professional sports are about the next-man-up mentality, so we are looking forward to guys stepping up and filling in that role as best as they can.”
New signing Patty Mills might have to slot into the starting lineup in Irving’s absence, something that was definitely not the plan when he was signed, but it might be the team’s only option following the departure of Spencer Dinwiddie to the Washington Wizards.
Durant says the team is taking a hands-off approach to dealing with the situation, and they are instead focusing on things they can control.
“We want him a part of this group,” he said. “But a lot of stuff is out of our control, and we will let [Kyrie Irving] figure that out for himself. It doesn’t mean that I will say that I don’t want him on the team. He’s a huge part of what we do, but guys got to step up in his absence and be who they are and move forward.”
Will Irving Report?
It’s seeming like Irving is gearing up to miss at least the start of the season, but we’ve already seen how players can change their minds.
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins was in a similar boat, but he shifted gears and decided to get vaccinated and he’ll now be with the team through the season.
However, if there was anybody who was willing to entrench themselves and miss half the season, it’s looking a lot like Irving will be that player. Obviously, that’s worst-case scenario for the Nets, so they’ll be hoping they can come to some sort of compromise before the season officially kicks off.