For the Brooklyn Nets, the most valuable asset they could acquire to bolster their NBA title hopes is already under contract.
But whether Kyrie Irving suits up for Brooklyn this upcoming season is still an unknown. New York has a mandate that stipulates for professional athletes to be vaccinated in order for them to play indoors, meaning if Irving is not vaccinated, he won’t be able to play at the Nets’ home, Barclays Center, or the Knicks’ home, Madison Square Garden.
Irving has still not revealed his vaccination status. As that cloud continues to loom over the Nets’ preseason, Kevin Durant weighed in on the matter.
“We are anxious to be a whole team and Ky is a huge part of what we do,” Durant said, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. “But he’s dealing with something personal right now, and while he’s dealing with that, we’re going to focus on us here in the gym and keep working. And when he’s ready to figure that out, he’ll figure it out.”
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Durant Elaborates More on Irving
Durant recruited Irving to Brooklyn in 2019, laying the foundation for what would become their Big Three; James Harden, the third leg of that trio, was acquired via trade in January.
But now, Irving may end up being ineligible for more than half of the Nets’ scheduled 2021-22 games.
Schiffer reported that each missed game will cost Irving around $380,000.
Pressed more about Irving, Durant shared his candid thoughts.
“I want him to be part of this group,” Durant said, per Schifer. “He’s a special, special player and person and we want him to be part of this group. But a lot of stuff is out of our control, and we’ll let him figure that out for himself. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna say that I don’t want him on the team, you know what I’m saying? He’s a huge part of what we do. But guys have got to step up in his absence, be who they are and move forward.”
“I’m not really trying to get too involved in it, because I mean it’s far bigger than myself and each one of us individually. This is one man’s personal decision on his well-being. So I’ve got to sit back and just observe and see what’s happening and keep coming in here and practice every day and going every rep. I think everybody has that mentality.”
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Losing Irving Would Hurt, but Nets Have Deep Bench
Last season, the 29-year-old Irving averaged 26.9 points on better than 50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and 90 percent shooting from the free throw line, becoming just the ninth player in NBA history to shoot with such efficiency in a season.
Irving played more of the shooting guard position after Harden arrived in Brooklyn and assumed floor general duties. ESPN has Patty Mills behind Irving on the shooting guard depth chart. Behind Mills is Bruce Brown, rookie Cam Thomas and DeAndre’ Bembry.